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Passports Can't Be Denied Over Refusal to Select a Gender

The U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado issued a major win for intersex people. Put a "W" in the "X" column! Though the judge in the case stated the ruling was particular to the case at hand, it will still serve as a powerful message that the United States may be ready to join other developed countries in the adoption of gender designation and identification.

What If You're Accused of Shoplifting in Cashierless Store?

Cashierless stores are an interesting new development in the retail industry. Amazon recently announced it plans to open 3,000 of its Amazon Go markets by the year 2021.

Imagine going into a grocery store, placing items in your cart as you go up and down the aisles. And then, you just walk out the door. No need to argue with the cashier that the store policy is if there's three in line, they'll open a new checkout line, and it's already eight deep. No more feeling irritated that the person in front of you in the 10 items or less lane has 14 items. Electronic surveillance equipment calculates your total, either while you are shopping or once you exit, charges your credit card, and emails a receipt before you can even start piling the groceries in the car.

Sorry, you'll have to bag now. No one to blame if your bread gets crushed! Also, there is the issue of shoplifting. What happens if you're accused of stealing something in one of these new cashierless stores?

Toddlers and Young Immigrant Children Still Alienated From Their "Ineligible" Parents

In the all-too-familiar saga of immigrant children separated from their parents, a few toddlers are still getting left behind. Though President Trump did sign a bill authorizing the reunification of "tender age" children with their families months ago, there are a few that continue to be separated from their parents, over six months and counting. These parents have been deemed "ineligible" for reunification, based on past crimes. Though this makes sense for some crimes, such as child or sexual abuse, one three-year-old girl in particular is being separated from her father for misdemeanor crimes he committed over twelve years ago.

What Is the Ministerial Exception?

In a nutshell, "ministerial exception" allows religious institutions of all kinds to be able to choose who their ministers are, even if in making such choices, federal laws are violated. That concept is something most Americans can somewhat agree with, given that one of the basic principles this country was founded on was separation of Church and State, as evidenced by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- Freedom of Religion. But this exception has taken on a life of its own, and some believe it has gone way too far.

Normally, you'd consider a charitable act, like giving food to people who can't afford to eat, something to be praised instead of punished. But you're not Florida.

Pastors, activists, and volunteers have been getting arrested in the Sunshine State for years, for simply feeding the homeless. Or, more specifically, they were arrested for violating city ordinances which impose restrictions on hours of operation and requirements regarding food handling and safety for "social service facilities," which can include setting up tables in a public park and sharing food. But a federal court just ruled that one charity's outdoor food sharing is in fact expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.

You start hearing it when you're a kid: "That will go on your permanent record." But how permanent is that record? You may have heard about someone getting their criminal record sealed or expunged, presumably wiping the slate clean. But how does that process work, what kinds of crimes can be expunged, and do you have to tell anyone once it's done?

And, most importantly, when is it too late to get your criminal record expunged?

What Should a Hotel Housekeeper Do If Drugs Are Found in a Room?

Recently, Henry Nicholas III, co-founder of Broadcom was arrested in Las Vegas for drug trafficking. Police found a large stash of meth, cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin in his hotel suite. This brings about an important question for all guests, not just ones that are worth over $3 billion. What if I have drugs in a hotel room and a maid or housekeeper comes across them? What will, or at least, should, the housekeeper do about it? In one word -- probably nothing.

As surprising as this may sound, the U.S. Constitution protects a hotel patron lawfully in possession of the room from a housekeeper stumbling upon anything illegal in a hotel room, including drugs.

Maybe you took a civics class in high school, maybe you didn't. And maybe you paid attention in that class, and maybe you stared out the window, wondering why it wasn't snowing yet and trying to will the clock to move faster with your mind. And now all of a sudden you're reading "Supreme Court Says This" and "Supreme Court Strikes Down That," and you're wondering, wait, why did they decide that, and how did that case go to the Supreme Court?

So, for those of you daydreaming during civics class and trying to calculate how many pieces of gum were stuck to the underside of your desk in the meantime, here's a quick refresher on how the Supreme Court hears cases.

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?