4th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Fourth Circuit
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The Professional Massage Training Center, in Springfield, Missouri, became accredited by the Accreditation Alliance of Career Schools in 2005. When PMTC applied for reaccreditation in 2010, AACS denied the application.

That's a big deal: Unaccredited schools don't get access to a whole host of benefits, including the ability to accept federal student loan money. PMTC sued, and a federal district court agreed with PMTC, awarding it $400,000 in damages and reinstating the accreditation. That decision was totally wrong, said the Fourth Circuit, which reversed the reinstatement and ordering the district court to dismiss the case.

A few years ago, the Ninth Circuit ruled against the City of Redondo Beach in a dispute over a city ordinance prohibiting standing in the street to solicit anything in exchange for money. The ordinance was really directed toward day laborers; Redondo Beach wanted a way to stop them from soliciting work on certain streets and tried to use a safety ordinance to do it.

Now, from the Fourth Circuit, comes a similar statute prohibiting "standing" in a county roadway to solicit funds or sell merchandise. The plaintiff in Reynolds v. Middleton is, it turns out, a homeless man who solicits donations from stopped cars. A federal district court had granted summary judgment for Henrico County, Virginia, but last week, the Fourth Circuit reversed.

On Monday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals became the first federal appellate court to overturn a state's "informed consent" law for abortions. These laws require physicians to recite a state-mandated script before performing an abortion.

In the case of North Carolina, physicians were required to conduct an ultrasound, point out to the patient the fetus and any visible body parts, and advise the patient on alternatives to abortion. All of this, said the Fourth Circuit in stark, uncompromising language, went way too far.

Important Assault Weapons and Magazine Capacity Law Battle in Md.

A landmark Second Amendment case is making its way through the Fourth Circuit, and once again, the state behind the restrictive law is Maryland. Two years ago, it was concealed carry. This year, the issue is the assault weapons ban and magazine capacity limit that went into effect courtesy of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, a gun control law passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

As you might expect, the case has drawn attention from outside interest groups and amicus groups from all across the United States.

There must have been some degree of pearl-clutching from gay marriage opponents on Tuesday, as the Fourth Circuit denied South Carolina's request to stay last week's federal ruling against the state's gay marriage ban.

When U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel had struck down the Palmetto State's prohibition on gay marriage, he placed on automatic stay on the ruling that's set to expire November 20. For those keeping score at home, that's tomorrow, and it appears that the Fourth Circuit isn't going to step in before gay marriages begin.

But is the Fourth Circuit the last word on South Carolina's same-sex marriage ban?

So that makes how many now? Notwithstanding what the Sixth Circuit thinks, Judge Richard Gergel of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina has come to the now-unsurprising conclusion that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

In a referendum approved by 78 percent of voters, South Carolina amended its constitution in 2006 to prevent the state from recognizing any marriage other than that between one man and one woman. Gergel's order makes his the 52nd court to strike same-sex marriage bans since U.S. v. Windsor, according to Freedom to Marry.

In 2009, U.S. citizen Gulet Mohamed went to the Middle East to study Arabic. He visited to several countries, including Yemen and Somalia. Then he moved to Kuwait. In 2010, he tried to renew his visitor's visa but was instead handcuffed, blindfolded, and held in detention for a week while being tortured.

And you thought renewing your driver's license was hard.

Kuwaiti officials tried to deport him, but it turned out that Mohamed's name was on a No-Fly List, so he can't return to the United States. While being held incommunicado in Kuwait, he was interrogated by FBI agents, who threatened more interrogation and criminal charges if he didn't speak to them.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case about a controversial North Carolina abortion law yesterday. The Woman's Right to Know Act requires a doctor providing an abortion to give the patient an ultrasound at least four hours before an abortion and requires the doctor to show the woman the fetus on the ultrasound display and describe the fetus. The woman doesn't have to watch or listen, but the doctor is required to go through with the charade even if she doesn't.

The Virginia Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a new type of Yelp case. By now, we're familiar with the defamation and the SLAPPs and the non-disparagement agreements and the not-technically-extortion-but-sounds-like-it.

Well, Yelp v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning is different. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning wanted to sue the authors of critical reviews posted about it on Yelp. This in itself isn't new; businesses have been trying for years to use lawsuits to get critical reviews off Yelp, though it usually doesn't work because the reviews are not only opinions, but because lawsuits can't be used in states that have anti-SLAPP laws.

Within days of each other, two federal district courts in North Carolina have ruled on issues related to the state's ban on same-sex marriage. On October 10, Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. said that, per the Fourth Circuit's opinion in Bostic v. Schaefer, the matter was settled as far as he was concerned. The state law was plainly unconstitutional:

The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue and it is clear as a matter of what is now settled law in the Fourth Circuit that North Carolina laws prohibiting same sex marriage, refusing to recognize same sex marriages originating elsewhere, and/or threating [sic] to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.