6th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Sixth Circuit
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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits, among other things, employment discrimination based on religion. That's great, but what about volunteers? Sister Michael Marie and Sister Mary Cabrini, two Catholic nuns, were Red Cross volunteers in Chillicothe, Ohio.

They were never employees, but they believe the positive reviews they received over the years should have entitled them to "promotions" that would have altered their roles and responsibilities. They never received those promotions -- because, they alleged, the Executive Director of the local chapter of the Red Cross was biased against them because they were "traditional" Catholics.

In 2009, Tynisa Williams was arrested, strip-searched, and deloused (allegedly in front of two other inmates) before being put into jail in Cleveland and released later that day. Her crime? Driving with a suspended license. There was no individualized suspicion that she was carrying anything dangerous, nor that she had lice.

"Doesn't this all sound familiar?" you're saying, scratching your chin. Yes, in fact: The Supreme Court dealt with a similar situation in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington. In that case, Burlington County had a policy of strip-searching every person processed into county jail, regardless of the severity of their crime. The Supreme Court upheld this practice. So why did the Sixth Circuit allow Tynisa Williams' complaint to proceed?

The Sixth Circuit is now the first federal circuit court of appeals to rule against same-sex marriage, likely setting the stage for what Justice Ginsburg predicted: The necessity for the Supreme Court to take up the issue instead of letting it fall into shadows, as it did last month when it declined to hear same-sex marriage cases from three other circuits.

By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Sixth Circuit said that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution does allow states to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

After about 10 years and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, Whirlpool's lawyers can sleep a little better. Last week, a federal jury in Ohio rejected claims brought by consumers who bought its "Duet" washing machines between 2001 and 2008.

This litigation has been going on for years and threatened to further restrict access to class action litigation.

It sounds like one of Jerry Seinfeld's rejected comedy routines: "And what's the deal with Ohio and voting restrictions?"

With Ohio's voter ID law headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Sixth Circuit decided another bit of Ohio's election law. But this one's a little bit different.

This is a tough question: What do police officers do when a group called Bible Believers, carrying a severed pig's head and yelling about a "pedophile prophet," are confronted at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, by Muslim children with rocks and bottles?

The "peaceful" proselytizers are kind of asking for it. But you don't want to crush their speech rights by giving in to the hecklers who are pelting them with rubble. Eventually, after things started to get out of hand, and the leader of the Bible Believers group was bleeding from a cut on his face, police stepped in and escorted the group out of the festival.

The original case split 2-1 in the Sixth Circuit, with the majority siding with the police officers and the dissent arguing that the cops didn't go far enough to protect speech rights. Now, the full Sixth Circuit will give the case the en banc treatment.

In an attempt to keep voters from being harassed by signs and people with handbills, many places around the country have geographic limits on signage around polling places. A state law in Kentucky says that no one can engage in electioneering within 300 feet of a polling place.

That seemed a little too far for Judge William O. Bertelsman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, who ruled earlier this week the state's law was unconstitutional.

Back in August, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Occupy Nashville v. Haslam. On October 8, the court issued its opinion reversing the district court's order. The Sixth Circuit found that Nashville police and city officials were entitled to qualified immunity.

Facts in Brief

With no public notice, comment, or even the presence of the public, the City of Nashville, Tennessee, unilaterally changed city policy to establish a 10 p.m. curfew in the city's War Memorial Plaza, which previously had no curfew. Nashville then distributed copies of the new curfew to protesters and posted signs on the plaza. At 3 a.m., police enforced the newly crafted rule against Occupy Nashville protesters.

After a district court blocked Ohio's attempts to limit early voting opportunities, and after the Sixth Circuit refused to issue a stay pending appeal, the state was down to a Hail Mary petition in the last few minutes of the game.

With early voting set to commence, including the "Golden Week," which allows voters to register and vote on the same day (and is a logistical headache for the state, which has to verify those registrations on the spot), the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in Monday morning and voted 5-4 to issue a stay in the case, all but guaranteeing that the state will get its way this election, and early voting opportunities will be limited. (H/T to SCOTUSblog)

From Tennessee comes a pretty serious case of animal neglect on the part of United Pet Supply, which operates pet stores. After receiving complaints about animal neglect, Chattanooga animal welfare workers visited the store, observing lots of neglected animals in pretty bad conditions. (See pages 5-6 of the opinion for more of the details.)

City workers seized the animals, revoked Pet Supply's license to sell animals on the spot, and cited the company for various violations. Pet Supply commenced a suit in federal court against the animal welfare workers, alleging due process and Fourth Amendment violations. The district court granted the city workers qualified immunity on some claims, but denied summary judgment on other claims, finding there were factual disputes.