4th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Fourth Circuit
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An en banc Fourth Circuit upheld Maryland's 2013 Firearm Safety Act on Tuesday. That law, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that left 20 first graders dead, banned assault weapons and high capacity magazines -- the very type of weapons common in mass shootings.

But the Fourth didn't just rule that the law withstood scrutiny under the Second Amendment. It ruled that the targeted weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment at all.

The Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday, in an en banc decision, that police are justified in frisking individuals with concealed firearms, regardless of whether that individual could have a concealed carry permit or not. The fact that someone may have a concealed carry permit does not make it unreasonable for an officer to search them, "for the officer's protection and the safety of everyone at the scene," the Fourth ruled.

The decision, U.S. v. Robinson, is in tension with a Sixth Circuit opinion from 2015 and could result in the Supreme Court taking up this developing circuit split.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday acted to stay an order that would have required North Carolina to redraw its state legislative districts by March 15th and hold special elections in the fall. That order, issued by a three-judge federal district court in November, came after the panel found that the state's legislative districts were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders.

But that's not the only North Carolina redistricting issue before the Court right now. Just a few weeks earlier, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging two federal districts that have been described by a district court as a "textbook example of racial gerrymandering."

A prosecutor's reliance on 'racially coded references' during sentencing entitled a South Carolina death row inmate to a new sentencing trial, the Fourth Circuit ruled on Monday. The prosecutor's comments during sentencing, including likening the defendant to King Kong and calling him "caveman" and "beast," so imbued the proceedings with racial bias that the defendant was denied a fair proceeding, the Fourth found.

The Fourth's decision upholds a district court ruling tossing the sentencing of Johnny Bennett for murder, kidnapping, and armed robbery, highlighting the way indirect racist appeals can undermine the legal process.

North Carolina Vows to Appeal Voter ID Ruling -- Without AG Cooper

North Carolina is going to appeal the last week's predictable ruling that overturned the state's photo ID law, and it's going at it alone without its attorney general.

Yes, it's dissent within the ranks. North Carolina AG Roy Cooper has said that the state tried its hardest to defend the controversial photo ID law -- but it lost. Now his involvement in the suit has come to an end. Governor Pat McCrory almost immediately denounced Cooper (who will challenge him for his position in November) by painting the latter as a turncoat.

The Fourth Circuit overturned North Carolina's voter identification law this morning -- and it didn't pull any punches in doing so. In a blistering, strongly-worded opinion, the court found that the North Carolina legislature enacted the voter ID requirement and ended same-day voter registration and preregistration "with discriminatory intent."

It apparently didn't take the Fourth Circuit too long to reach these conclusions, either. The ruling comes just three months after a federal district court upheld the voting law and little over a month following oral arguments.

4th Cir. Refuses Stay of Grimm's Transgender Access Bathroom Order

By hook or by crook, transgender student Gavin Grimm will get to use the bathroom of his choice, no matter how particular locals may feel about it. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Gloucester County School Board's request to stay a federal ruling in Grimm's favor, on Tuesday.

It looks like Grimm will finally be allowed in, despite the efforts of some. That is, unless the Supreme Court steps in.

Fourth Circuit Finds That Embezzlement Is Not Theft Under INA

In an analysis of moral turpitude crimes, the Fourth Circuit recently found that embezzlement is not tantamount to theft for purposes of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In the case at bar, it involved a man who was under threat of removal from the United States for having committed an "aggravated felony."

But it also shines a light on a rather peculiar question. Just when is embezzlement theft? Is all property from fraudulently-obtained consent a form of theft?

The Price of Cell Phone Convenience? Your Privacy and Liberty.

The recent ruling by the Fourth Circuit should raise the neck-hairs of everyone keeping track of mobile device-privacy issues and government overreach into our lives and pockets. In the case of USA v. Graham, the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, found that law enforcement does not require a search warrant when asking a cellphone carrier for tracking information because the consumer under scrutiny had no reasonable expectation of privacy.

It's a result that's a consequence of flawless application of logic -- and it should scare the bejeezus out of you.

Transgender Bathroom Case Likely on SCOTUS Track

This Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit ruled that it would not rehear the case of Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student who sought to use the boy's bathroom until a furor rose with parents threatening to vote out the school board unless Grimm was barred from using the boy's bathroom. The Circuit's refusal to rehear the case en banc, which essentially obligates Gavin's school to let him begin using the boy's bathroom again -- or it will at least guarantee that this fight will move up to the Supreme Court.

It was a bit of a tall order wanting all fifteen judges of the Fourth Circuit to hear the case. As it stands, some of the most controversially charged states regarding this issue are now obligated to allow persons who choose to use restrooms inconsistent with their biological sex do so.