Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Tenth Circuit
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Utah Governor Gary Herbert can't withhold federal funds from the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, the Tenth Circuit ruled last week. The governor had instructed Utah officials to withhold $272,000 in so-called "pass-through" federal funds designated for STD treatment and sex education.

The move came shortly after conservative activists released video of Planned Parenthood discussing the use of fetal tissue in medical research, leading to a national uproar and attempts in several states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood-affiliated programs.

10th Cir. Brushes off Kansas Religious Education Case

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an Establishment Clause case against the Kansas Board of Education brought after the state sought to adopt curriculum standards for K-12 science instruction. Those standards, some parents claimed, "breached the parent's trust" and would result in "anti-religious instruction."

It didn't take long before the circuit affirmed for the Board.

In 'Sister Wives' Case, 10th Circuit Recriminalizes Polygamy in Utah

The Brown family of Lehi, Utah first became known to most Americans through the TLC reality television series Sister Wives. The show (which still airs) documents the lives of members of the Browns, a polygamist family made up of husband-patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives, and their eighteen children.

The Browns claimed that part of their impetus in participating in the show was to help dispel fears and prejudices about polygamist families and to quell controversy. Rather ironically, the show would lead to the case of Brown v. Buhman. This week, the Tenth Circuit ruled that the family had no standing to sue.

Officers Not Immune From Suit in New Mexico Taser Case

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower court's ruling that two police officers were not immune from suit when they taser-shot a mentally ill man at least ten times within two minutes.

This case doesn't come as much of a shock as other courts have recently acheived similar rulings. For example, the Fourth Circuit recently found no qualified immunity for police officer who tased without reason.

Standing Kills CO Sheriff's Gun Laws Suit Against Gov. Hickenlooper

It took 33 pages for the Tenth Circuit to clearly spell out why it was reversing and remanding a federal district court's ruling that Colorado's recently enacted gun laws were constitutional. It was also a strange opinion in that both plaintiffs and defendants claimed victory.

The Tenth Circuit's opinion and remand marks what seems to be a major chapter in the book that first began with the tragic shootings at Aurora, Colorado and Newton, Connecticut.

10th Cir. Rules That Colorado Non-Profit Needn't Disclose Donors

The Tenth Circuit affirmed a lower district court ruling in favor of a Colorado non-profit that allowed it not to register as an "issue committee," thus allowing it to protect the identities of its donors. This case should also be read in conjunction with a related campaign case also recently decided in the Tenth Circuit.

The non-profit in question is Colorado's Coalition for Secular Government, which has fought zealously against a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution to grant "personhood" to unborn fetuses.

When Does a Campaign Ad Qualify as an 'Electioneering Communication'?

Citizens United has been vilified by the media over the yeas as the case that encapsulated the infamous "money equals speech" mantra, a statement that has been postered as the cynical influence of shadowy money influencing politics. Well, the much skimmed over dicta of the case just got a shot in the arm by the Tenth Circuit.

According to the circuit, the public has an "informational interests" ala Citizens that requires disclosure of donors that pay for ads that even mention candidates in the days leading up to an election. And everybody likes disclosure, right?

Professor Discrimination Case Remanded by Tenth Cir.

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded a race employment discrimination case back to the lower court on Friday, providing an opportunity for the plaintiff to better craft his complaint against his former employer, Northeastern State University.

In doing so, the Court offered a nifty little guide regarding how federal courts must consider the actions of each defendant on an individual basis when determining whether or not that defendant is entitled to qualified immunity.

Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown, along with the shared husband Kody, were just simple people going about their own business (and starring in the reality show 'Sister Wives') when they came under investigation for polygamy. The Browns weren't charged with a crime, but they challenged Utah's longstanding polygamy ban nonetheless -- and they won.

Now, the Sister Wives are taking their pro-polygamy campaign to the Tenth Circuit, which heard oral arguments over the ban today.

Seizing a Prisoner's Guitar Isn't a Due Process Violation

An inmate who was possibly a little too flower-power for his own good had his guitar seizure case dismissed by the Tenth Circuit's Court of Appeals.

In a desperate bid to get his instrument back, the plaintiff started blustering his way through the court system, trying to throw every possible legal theory he had at his case. He lost.