3rd Circuit Civil Rights Law News - U.S. Third Circuit
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As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, our country still has a long way to go. One look at the Third Circuit -- and the cases making headlines this week alone -- is proof enough.

Today, we'll be looking at the latest movements in cases regarding same sex marriage in Pennsylvania, gay conversion therapy in New Jersey, and a Pennsylvania company's contraception mandate challenge.

Anthony Elonis was unlucky in love and work, so he did what any person would do. He took to Facebook, and threatened everyone from his wife, to FBI agents, to area elementary schools. He did this claiming it was "therapeutic." Mr. Elonis, chocolate, booze and bubble baths are therapeutic -- threatening violence, is not.

The Supreme Court has granted cert in Mr. Elonis' case, to determine whether objective, or subjective, intent is enough to prove a true threat. That is, whether under the First Amendment, Supreme Court precedent, and canons of statutory interpretation, 18 U.S.C. 875(c), prohibiting threatening communications in interstate commerce, proof of defendant's subjective intent to threaten is required, or merely proof that an objective reasonable person would feel threatened.

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We apologize for the brief interlude between posts, but we are back and ready to update you on the goings-on in the Third Circuit. The Supreme Court reversed a Third Circuit's opinion in a case that reads like a Lifetime made-for-television movie. Not to be outdone by the Supreme Court, a Pennsylvania county clerk is stirring up more trouble in the same sex marriage scenario.

In less dramatic news (hopefully), Delaware is on its way to getting a new judge on its Supreme Court.

It's been an exciting week in the Third Circuit. Pennsylvania joined the ranks among the more enlightened set of states that recognize same sex marriage.

And in more entertaining news, the hacker whose sentence was recently vacated by the Third Circuit has sent the U.S. Government an invoice for Bitcoins totaling about $13 million.

Don't we all feel modern and cool here in the Third?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF") and the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU") of Pennsylvania have filed a joint amicus brief in a case that is on appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The two organizations lend their voices in a case challenging two federal criminal statutes that, according to them, violate First Amendment free speech rights and Fourteenth Amendment privacy rights. Soon to be before the Third Circuit for the second time in its long procedural history -- we wonder how the Third Circuit will decide.

Under New Jersey law, an individual who wants to carry a gun in public must submit a special application, that among other things shows that the applicant "has a justifiable need to carry a handgun." The District Court for the District of New Jersey found the law constitutional, and the Third Circuit affirmed.

On Monday, the Supreme Court denied cert. Let's take an in depth look at the issues, and the Court's reluctance to hear similar cases.

In the past week we've had some interesting movement in cases in the Third Circuit. One case was filed in district court in New Jersey, while one is getting set for arguments before the Third Circuit, and another is getting sent back to state court with a certified question.

Here's the latest in Third Circuit cases -- read on for details.

The last time we wrote about Whitewood v. Wolf was last December when Judge John E. Jones, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, denied the state's motion to certify an interlocutory appeal.

On Monday, both parties filed motions for summary judgment, effectively asking Judge Jones to decide the case on the briefs rather than waiting for trial, which is scheduled for June 9, 2014.

The dust has finally settled around the controversy over student speech in the "I Heart Boobies" bracelet case, and now another school in the Third Circuit has come under fire for potentially violating a student's right to free speech.

Though there's never a clear line drawn as to what kind of speech can be prohibited, this case is a particularly difficult one because the speech being prohibited is religious in nature. At the intersection of religious speech, and permissible prohibitions on speech at schools, lies the case of the religious Valentine's Day cards.

In the latest fallout from the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware has issued an order granting a preliminary injunction, enjoining the state of Delaware from enforcing Delaware Election Code Sections 8002(10), 8002(27) and 8031, which requires certain disclosures related to financial contributions to third-party political ads.

On January 1, 2013, Delaware's Election Disclosures Act ("Act") took effect, which would require organizations, including non-profits, to disclose donors when the funds are used for third-party advertisements during an election. Non-profit conservative group, Delaware Strong Families, who publishes and distributes a voter guide, sought to prevent enforcement of the Act by filing a verified complaint in district court.