7th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Seventh Circuit
U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recent Civil Rights Law Decisions

The protests, and dramatic exit of Wisconsin State Senate Democrats, surrounding the legislation of Wisconsin's Act 10 in 2011 are still fresh in our memory, yet they occurred three years ago. The controversial act has already been before the Seventh Circuit on constitutional grounds, and the challenges failed.

This week, in a second case, the Seventh Circuit again found that Wisconsin's Act 10 is constitutional.

A divided panel of the Seventh Circuit found a school's policy prohibiting boys from sporting long hair on the basketball court violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and was sex discrimination under Title IX, reports the ABA Journal.

Long Hair Don't Care

The parents of A.H. sued his school district alleging violations of substantive due process, equal protection of the laws and Title IX regulations when A.H. was removed from the basketball team for not complying with the coach's hair length policy promoting "team unity" and a "clean cut" image, reports The Indianapolis Star.

In the ongoing legal saga that is made up of multiple legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate (with 93 pending cases and counting), the Seventh Circuit has added its two cents again.

Back in November the Seventh Circuit weighed in on the issue of the contraception mandates applicability to for-profit, secular businesses, and came out on the side of business owners when it granted an injunction pending appeal, stating that "compelling [business owners] to cover those services substantially burdens their religious exercise rights."

A few weeks ago, the Seventh Circuit issued an opinion in another case challenging the mandate, only this time, it's regarding self certification Form 700 that allows religiously affiliated institutions to exempt themselves from carrying out the contraception mandate.

With the Supreme Court in full swing, Monday was a busy day for denials (just take a look at the order list). One of the cases denied cert. was a case originating in the Seventh Circuit, and one of a trio of cases the SCOTUSblog likes to call the "washing machine" cases.

We also take a look at Wisconsin's voter photo ID law that is before Wisconsin's highest court.

In September 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and to commemorate the event, Sports Illustrated devoted an issue to highlighting Michael Jordan's legendary career. Sports Illustrated offered Jewel-Osco supermarkets ("Jewel") a free ad in the magazine, in exchange for Jewel selling the magazines in its store.

Jewel's ad was a full-pager, placed on the inside back cover, and featured a pair of basketball shoes bearing Michael Jordan's number 23, with a congratulatory note, as well as Jewel's logo and slogan, reports the Chicago Tribune. What was meant as a congratulatory note was instead seen as a misappropriation of identity and resulted in a lawsuit, reports ESPN.

Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit had the opportunity to address a First Amendment free speech case regarding public protest, reports Courthouse News Service. Eric Smith planned a protest of the United Nations' proposed Arms Trade Treaty at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana. Though he publicized the event, only he and his son showed up. The two set up five signs on the ground to promote the protest.

A few minutes later, an Indiana War Memorials Commission ("Commission") employee asked Smith to leave the property after asking Smith if he had a permit to protest, which he did not. He refused to leave at first, but changed his mind when police officers threatened his arrest.

The Jaros brothers have been trying to open up a Bible camp since 2004, and have been involved in litigation since 2010 to try to get the appropriate permits for the camp, reports The Lakeland Times. In a last ditch effort, the brothers may petition the Supreme Court of the United States for certiorari, but because of the small impact of the case, as well as a lack of circuit split, we think it's doubtful that the Supreme Court will take it on.

Margarita Zayas was an ultrasound technician employed at Rockford Memorial Hospital from November 1999 to April 2011. Though she received positive work evaluations as recently as 2008 and 2009, she was terminated because of repeatedly sending disrespectful emails to her direct supervisor Larry Griesman.

Over the course of one year, Zayas sent a series of insubordinate emails to Griesman, despite several meetings and warnings. Even after Zayas received a formal written warning, she persisted in sending emails that "were perceived as negative, unprofessional and disrespectful towards her managers and peers." Because she did not heed her employer's warnings, she was terminated in April 2011, at the age of fifty-five, the oldest ultrasound tech at Rockford Memorial Hospital.

In the latest fall out resulting from United States v. Windsor, the ACLU of Wisconsin is challenging Wisconsin state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage. Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin challenging Wisconsin laws that prohibit same-sex marriages.

The Back Story

Two of the named plaintiffs are Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann, a Milwaukee-based couple that has been together for 37 years. Wangemann had part of his lung removed after being diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago. Complications followed surgery, and Wangemann was in a coma for almost a month. Wangemann's father wanted to override Badger's power of attorney and take Wangemann off of life support. Fortunately, his father's attempt failed and Wangemann recovered.

In what will likely be& the next case regarding the Establishment Clause to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court (no matter which way the appellate ruling goes), we have two citizens contesting a city's approval of a church's permit to display crosses in a public area. Why the church needs to display crosses in a busy downtown area of the city is unclear, but you can't say they're not persistent.

The case has already been heard by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, and is now on its way to the Seventh Circuit. We're guessing no matter which way this case is decided, one (or two) thing(s) will probably follow: a petition for rehearing en banc and/or a petition for writ of certiorari. Some things are just inevitable.