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This is one of those cases that seems obvious, until you consult the history books.

You might think to yourself, of course a city can't ban its police officers from contributing to political campaigns -- that's ridiculous. Except, in 1917, the "Bloody Fifth" Ward incident happened: Cops beat up an opposition candidate, killed a detective who tried to intervene, and terrorized the candidate's supporters. Because, ya know, machine politics.

A series of reforms followed, culminating in a 1951 ban on political contributions by cops as a prophylactic against corruption. The ban stood for more than 60 years, until the Third Circuit cut it down this week, citing a few obvious free speech problems.

In addition to paying for their crimes figuratively by going to prison, defendants also have to pay literally in the form of restitution, fines, and fees. In Pennsylvania, prisoners have inmate accounts that they use for purchasing such things as soap, toothpaste, and over-the-counter medications. A Pennsylvania law allows the state to deduct a prisoner's fines and fees from this inmate account -- although sometimes inmates aren't told this can happen.

Domingo Montanez and Timothy Hale are two such prisoners. They sued the Department of Corrections, alleging due process violations when the state automatically deducted funds from their inmate accounts to pay their fines and fees. The Third Circuit reversed summary judgment against Hale, and affirmed summary judgment against Montanez.

We called it. Back in July we saw the writing on the wall when a Pennsylvania county clerk named Theresa Santai-Gaffney told the Standard-Speaker, "I've never surrendered" in her fight to keep the Keystone State's same-sex marriage ban alive. Well, it looks like she might just have to.

On Monday, the Third Circuit denied the Schuylkill County clerk's motion for a hearing en banc, essentially leaving her with one option: the U.S. Supreme Court.

Whether she will "surrender" now remains to be seen.

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.