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Roundup: Prison Contraband, Pregnancy Case, W.Va. Gay Marriage

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By William Peacock, Esq. on September 19, 2014 12:28 PM

Happy Friday! We know, you're not in the mood to read dense case law right now -- you want something lighter. In fact, you're reading this blog for just that purpose.

We've got your back. Here are three quick, local updates from Fourth Circuit cases, including oral arguments in a prison contraband smuggling sentence appeal, an interesting note on amici in the Supreme Court's UPS pregnancy discrimination case (originally out of the Fourth Circuit), and a federal judge in West Virginia's decision to stay out of the gay marriage controversy until the Supreme Court steps in.

Oral Arguments: Is Contractor Prison Guard a 'High-Ranking' or 'Sensitive' Public Official?

Kenneth Dodd, an inmate, bribed a contract prison guard to smuggle in contraband. He was given a sentence enhancement for bribing a "public official in a high-level decision-making or sensitive position," netting him an extra 13 months on top of the 24 to 30 months he would have gotten if the prison guard wasn't so important, plus his original 24-year sentence.

Indy Week, the alt-weekly covering North Carolina's Research Triangle area, has more on the case, including comments from his attorney and the district court judge.

Anti-Abortion, Pro-Abortion Rights Groups Want 4th Cir. Reversed in UPS Pregnancy Case

Peggy Young, a UPS driver, was pregnant. UPS refused to give her light duty, despite extending the courtesy to three other classes of drivers listed in the collective bargaining agreement. The Fourth Circuit held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) doesn't require employers to extend such accommodations to pregnant women, and agreed with UPS's argument that its policy was "pregnancy neutral."

The Economist notes that both anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights organizations have backed Young's appeal with amicus briefs. Pro-abortion rights organizations see it as a gender equality question: whether pregnant women should receive the same accommodations as other employees unaffected by a pregnancy.

And anti-abortion activists worry about women considering abortion because of inflexible bosses. They quote one of the PDA's original backers, the late Sen. Harrison Williams, who said that one of the purposes of the bill "is to prevent the tragedy of needless, and unwanted abortions forced upon a woman because she cannot afford to leave her job without pay to carry out the full term of her pregnancy."

Federal Judge in W.Va. Puts Gay Marriage Case on Hold

In an unsurprising move, District Court Judge Robert Chambers placed a challenge to West Virginia's gay marriage ban on hold, pending the outcome of an appeal of the Fourth Circuit's decision from earlier this year, reports Weston, West Virginia's WDTV.

That decision, as you probably already know, struck down neighboring Virginia's gay marriage ban. The Supreme Court is set to consider the petition for certiorari when the Court convenes for its first conference September 29.

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