6th Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Sixth Circuit
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Late last week, a district court in Michigan held that the state's constitutional provision and implementing laws the defined marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In making such a holding, that court joined countless other courts across the nation, but unlike many of those courts, the district court denied the state's request for a stay pending appeal.

The Sixth Circuit granted an emergency stay (after a few hundred marriage licenses were handed out to same-sex couples), and yesterday afternoon, continue the stay until the circuit court could hear the appeal.

After Kentucky's somewhat harried search for a firm to defend the state from the potential "chaos" of recognizing out-of-state gay marriages, a firm has been chosen.

The relatively small firm of VanAntwerp, Monge, Jones, Edwards & McCann, LLP has been recruited to defend the state in the Sixth Circuit for at least until June 6, according to Louisville's WFPL. Their contract with the Bluegrass State has a payment cap set at $100,000.

But what will the VanAntwerp firm be doing for that money?

Kentucky is still going to defend its gay marriage ban before the Sixth Circuit, but not with the help of anyone employed by the state.

After Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway refused to defend the same-sex marriage prohibition, citing his refusal to "defend[] discrimination," the governor announced that outside counsel will be hired to represent the state's interests in the appeal, reports The Associated Press.

With Kentucky taxpayer money set to pay for private attorneys, this battle over same-sex unions just got hotter.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, we couldn't agree more.

Folks, Ohio has this ridiculous election law that bars people from making false statements with malice about candidates. It's a load of crap, restricts speech, is far from content-neutral, and basically makes political satire illegal.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that the remedy for false speech is more speech, not some unconstitutional law that will die an expensive (litigating the issue up to the Supreme Court can't be cheap) death. And now, according to The Columbus Dispatch, the state's Attorney General just took the same position, hopefully nuking the case before Ohio further embarrasses itself.

One of these cases is not like the others. While many parties have challenged states' gay marriage bans generally, and others have targeted a state's refusal to recognize other states' same-sex couplings, the Ohio gay marriage case was especially narrow, focusing on the listing of one's spouse on his or her death certificate.

The plaintiffs, who were seeking recognition of their same-sex marriages (legally entered into in other states) on their deceased loved one's death certificates, triumphed in the district court. Now, they've asked the Sixth Circuit to expedite the appeal, reports Equality on Trial.

Our first take on this case was that it seems to be pretty cut and dried: the Kentucky-based federal district court misinterpreted the Communications Decency Act when it held gossip site TheDirty.com could be held liable for users' scurrilous comments about Sarah Jones, a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader.

The comments discussed her rumored sexual habits and certain sexually transmitted diseases that she was alleged to have acquired.

Well, Sixth Circuit panels may ignore other panels' crack resentencing precedent, but there was no such mistake here. Eden Foods challenge to the Obamacare contraception mandate was tossed in a short opinion by the Sixth Circuit, which cited its own controlling precedent from last month.

The only thing of note in the opinion was a footnote where the court cited an interview of Eden Foods' CEO Michael Potter by Salon.com, and characterized his religious beliefs as "a laissez-faire, anti-government screed."

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

Those words, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, are pretty much all you need to know about Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.

Michigan passed an initiative in 2006 which amended the state constitution to prohibit discrimination or racial preferences in public education, government contracting and public employment. Affirmative action proponents immediately sued to block the portion of the law dealing with higher education.

Okay, there's almost no way this doesn't get to the Supreme Court.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as ACA or Obamacare) requires health plans to cover contraception, sans co-pay. Employers with religious owners argue that this infringes upon their religious liberty. According to the ACLU, 72 cases have been filed nationwide challenging the "mandate."

Here, we have Autocam, an automotive and medical manufacturer, whose owners, the Kennedys, are Catholic, opposed to birth control on religious grounds, and who believe that some of the drugs covered by the mandate are abortifacients.

TripAdvisor Didn't Defame the Dirtiest Hotel in America: 6th Cir.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that TripAdvisor can't be held liable for defamation for crowning Tennessee's Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center as the Dirtiest Hotel in America. In the $10 million lawsuit, the owner of the unlucky winner claimed TripAdvisor used a flawed rating system based on unreliable rumors.

The court's decision reminds business owners and their lawyers alike that hyperbolic scathing reviews typically won't be considered defamatory.