Civil Rights Law Decisions: Decided

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In a recent opinion, issued last week, by the Arkansas Supreme Court, a city's local civil rights law protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination was put in peril. The court's decision is not the final nail in the proverbial coffin, as they have ordered the lower court to reconsider their ruling based upon their order. As such, supporters of the local anti-discrimination statute are gearing up to fight it out again.

The challenged anti-discrimination law was passed by voters in the city of Fayetteville, and essentially extended the same protections to LGBT individuals as provided to the protected classes listed in the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993. While the law was passed by local voters, and seems to reflect positively on the voters of Fayetteville, unfortunately, the law is facing a rather large technical hurdle.

Although Planned Parenthood is no stranger to controversy, their 30 health centers in the Texas are likely breathing a collective sigh of relief this week, as are the individuals they serve. A federal judge put a temporary halt to the Medicaid funding termination notice issued to Texas Planned Parenthood, because the state claimed that the organization was unqualified.

Gun control is a divisive subject. Although the right to bear arms is rooted in the U.S. Constitution, even Yosemite Sam would agree that guns have changed quite a bit since 1787. In fact, the recent ruling by the Federal Appeals Court in the Fourth Circuit has distinguished that a certain class of gun does not even qualify for protection under the Second Amendment.

The ruling, announced this past Tuesday, is sure to make waves and be challenged to the Supreme Court. Whether SCOTUS decides to take the case up will be closely watched by both pro- and anti-gun control advocates, as well as the several states that have passed gun control and restriction laws.

News broke this week that city officials in Baltimore have approved the $300,000 wrongful death settlement for the family of Anthony Anderson. The tragic death can be described as nothing other than police brutality and excessive force, based upon the statements of the witnesses who witnessed the violent encounter.

The settlement comes nearly five years after Mr. Anderson's death in 2012, which the medical examiner ruled was a homicide. However, the family hopes that the officers involved would be held personally and criminally accountable for their actions never materialized as the officers were cleared of wrongdoing. This settlement comes after the multi-million dollar Freddie Gray settlement.

Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old African-American man diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles Police Department officer in August, 2014. A subsequent review found that, although the shooting itself was justifiable as Ford attempted to wrestle the officer's gun away, both officers involved violated department policy prior to the shooting.

Ford's killing was one of many police shootings to spark outrage and protests, and now it will cost the city $1.5 million. The Los Angeles City Council approved the settlement in response to a lawsuit filed by Ford's family.

Chicago was home to 700 homicides in 2016. (And that milestone was reached by December 1.) The city has long been trying to curb gun violence, but has received judicial pushback on its strict gun control laws. So it's perhaps no surprise that the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a comprehensive statute regulating gun ranges in the city of Chicago, a law that included a ban on anyone under 18 from entering a shooting range.

So what avenues are left for a city trying to diminish its death toll?

Let's say that you live in New Hampshire. And let's posit that you don't like abortion. If both of those are the case, you might not be too pleased with New Hampshire's law allowing reproductive health care facilities to enforce a buffer zone banning anti-abortion advocates from protesting the clinic or its patients within 25 feet of the facility. You might be so displeased with the law that you sue the state in an effort to invalidate the law.

Here's the problem, though: the law has never been enforced. No facility in the state has created or demarcated such a buffer zone. Your First Amendment rights have not been chilled, your expressive activities have not been affected, and, thus, you have suffered no injury. Therefore your case is getting tossed out of court.

This week, the Detroit Public School Teachers' Union agreed to settle one of the two cases it has brought against the school district and state because of the school system's many failures. The parties were able to come to a compromise regarding claims over the poor building conditions. The settlement agreement provides for a new process to ensure that building repairs get completed in a timely fashion, and appoints an oversight committee to enforce the agreement.

The condition of some Detroit schools are so appalling that this litigation was actually necessary. Teachers complained not just about overcrowding and low pay, but also about the literal conditions of the buildings. Classrooms had mold, vermin, and were actually crumbling. While the Detroit schools are facing a funding crisis, the teachers are dismayed about the conditions that the children are subjected to. So much so that early last year, they organized a walk out that shut down nearly 90 percent of district's schools for one day.

The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City are most likely remembered as the first since 9/11, or the first to feature more extreme cold-weather sports like snowboarding, moguls, and aerials. (Or maybe you remember it for the bribery scandal that surrounding the site bidding process.)

But for many of those who attended and worked at those winter games and the Olympians that competed, 2002 will be remembered for the National Security Agency "spying on anyone and everyone in the Salt Lake City area" at the time. And now they're suing about it.

A recent appellate decision in California is causing a minor stir throughout the mental health treatment community, particularly for those involved in the treatment of sexual addiction or compulsion.

A certified drug and alcohol counselor and two licensed marriage and family therapists in California sought a court declaration protecting the privacy rights of their patients' therapy sessions. All three plaintiffs work with patients that struggle with sexual addiction/compulsion. As a result of a change in California law in 2015, the three are now required to report to law enforcement when their patients disclose having viewed child pornography online. Needless to say, many therapists have been feeling the implications of the new law since it took effect.