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Recently in Civil Rights Category

In a recent landmark case, a Philadelphia federal court decided that there is no religious right to discriminate against LGBT foster and adoptive parents. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker ruled that Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services, two state-approved foster care placement services, do not have the right to take taxpayer funds and still override Philadelphia's Department of Human Services' (DHS) child placement standards because of religious objections to LGBT lifestyles.

Of course law enforcement agencies want every tool available to fight crime. But which tools and technologies should be available to law enforcement? The eternal tug-of-war between the safety interest in crime-fighting and the privacy interests of citizens is now attempting to balance the use of artificial intelligence and facial recognition software, with tech companies and civil rights groups asking the government for guidance.

On Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith called for "thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses" for facial recognition technology. Hours later, ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said, "Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use by government, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized." So, who's the government going to side with?

What's Happening to Pregnant Women in ICE Detention?

ICE detention centers have come under fire recently for their treatment of families, most notably for separating young children from their parents. But in a little publicized situation, families-to-be are suffering an equally devastating situation. Pregnant women are miscarrying in these detention centers, and are not getting adequate prenatal care before, during, or after these miscarriages.

Last year, students in the Detroit Public School system sued the State of Michigan, claiming "their school buildings, unlike those of other Michigan students, are replete with conditions 'that make learning nearly impossible' ... that their schools, unlike other Michigan students', lack enough teachers to hold classes in which they would learn to read [and] unlike other Michigan students, they lack books necessary to attain literacy." These defects in their education, they alleged, amounted to a denial of their constitutional right to access to literacy.

But a federal judge disagreed this week, ruling that there is no fundamental right of access to literacy under the U.S. Constitution, and dismissing the case. Here's a look at why.

Poor Plaintiffs Have Right to Free Court Reporter in California

Budgetary cuts have hit state and local governments hard. One recent victim of the cuts is county-funded court reporters. Around 2012, many counties in California, including San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange, stopped providing court reporters in superior court, which is the court that initially hears civil suits. Litigants could still hire one, but at the cost of approximately $750 per day. Poor litigants, especially poor plaintiffs, couldn't afford one. This saved counties approximately $4 million per year, which was a substantial savings for the court system, but merely shifted the burden to litigants.

That all changed in California, when the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that refusing to provide a free court reporter to indigent litigants was a violation of civil rights, not just in the case brought before them in Jameson v. Desta, but in all civil cases in California.

Perhaps it's fitting to celebrate civil disobedience the day before we celebrate our national independence. After all, a group of colonies officially declaring themselves a new nation, free of the empire that founded them, is a pretty epic act of disobedience.

So July 3rd is Disobedience Day, a day to celebrate the refusal to obey certain laws, statutes, or other commands of a government. Of course, there's a fine line between dangerous, illegal disobedience and peaceful, legal protest. Here are a few legal tips on exercising your right to disobey, hopefully without getting into too much trouble:

The long-standing practice of gerrymandering -- redrawing voting district lines to favor the political party in power -- has come under increased scrutiny in recent years. And two legal challenges to partisan gerrymandering, one from Maryland and the other from Wisconsin, made their way to the Supreme Court this term.

But in a decision that hardly feels like one, the Court declined to take a definitive stand on when gerrymandering along political lines goes too far, opting instead to rule on more technical grounds. So, what did the justices actually say on the matter?

Last week, President Donald Trump outlined the full scope of his presidential power to pardon. "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself," Trump tweeted, "but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?" Why, indeed?

It was a broad assertion of the scope of the pardoning power, leaving many to wonder if Trump was right, specifically, and what the limits of presidential pardons are, generally. So here's a roundup of some of our posts on presidential pardons, and their limits.

5 Questions to Ask a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

There are a lot of ways discrimination can occur in the workplace. If you suspect it's occurring at your job, you probably have a lot of questions about the discrimination itself and what you should do. Here are five questions to ask a workplace discrimination lawyer.

The Supreme Court today reversed a Colorado Court of Appeals decision finding that a bakery owner discriminated against a same-sex couple by refusing to make a cake for their wedding based on religious grounds. While the Court did not rule that wedding vendors and other business owners have a right to refuse service to same-sex couples, it did say the state agency reviewing the case violated the baker's First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion.

So, what could've been a landmark ruling on the balance between religious freedom and equal rights turned on more procedural grounds. Here's a look: