U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Civil Rights Law Category

6th Circuit Ponders Down Syndrome Abortion Law

Abortion decisions are never easy, but a case before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is almost impossible.

If a woman is carrying an unborn child with Down syndrome, does she have the right to end that life? Or can the government ban the abortion because it discriminates based on a disability?

In Preterm-Cleveland v. Himes, the appeals court considered the questions in an ongoing public argument. No matter how the justices rule, their answer will not quiet the debate.

An oddball case has made it to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, alleging that inmates in Tennessee were unduly coerced into agreeing to have a vasectomy in exchange for credit for time served in custody, and that the offer violated the civil rights of inmates.

Shortly after the news of the judge created policy broke in the summer of 2017, it was rescinded under public pressure. However, as noted in appellate argument, some inmates were still being awarded the credits under the policy.

The Flint water crisis is likely to be remembered as one of the worst public disasters caused by a local government in the state of Michigan's history.

And while several lawsuits have been filed, one recently made it back from the Sixth Circuit with bad news for several of the government officials named as defendants. The appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling that certain officials and the state were not immune, but it also reversed the holding in favor of some other officials.

The redistricting/gerrymandering case going on in the state of Michigan just got a whole lot more complicated. That's because the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed eight Republican Congress members to intervene in the League of Women Voter's lawsuit against the Michigan Secretary of State.

The lawsuit alleges that after the 2010 U.S. census, Republican lawmakers unconstitutionally redrew the districts to their advantage.

Judge Sued for Denying Name Changes to Transgender Children

It's almost a maxim that half of the people in a courtroom -- other than the judge and staff -- go home unhappy.

Judge Joseph W. Kirby knows that; appeals are a given for trial judges. However, he didn't expect the legal backfire that hit him after he denied name changes to parents of transgender children.

In Whitaker v. Kirby, the plaintiffs have sued the Ohio judge for allegedly discriminating against transgender children. It may be a short-lived suit because of judicial immunity, but the issue is not going away.

While employers need to be rather careful when employees make requests for accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the recent decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in McDonald v. UAW-GM is rather instructive for employers.

In this case, the employer did engage with the employee to work on finding a reasonable accommodation that would work for both employer and employee. However, the accommodations proposed by the employer, despite seeming to fit with the employee's doctor's recommendation, were rejected by the employee. Unfortunately for the employee, as the appellate court noted, the ADA does not require that employers provide a specifically requested accommodation, but rather to work with the employee to find an accommodation that works for both.

A Michigan federal court judge recently rejected claims filed on behalf of Detroit public school students that the state was denying the children their right to an education. The plaintiffs have vowed to appeal to the Sixth Circuit.

While expressing remorse over the deplorable conditions that the Detroit public school students suffer, Judge Stephen Murphy III also explained that the plaintiffs were seeking to enforce a right that does not exist. Additionally, the court found that the claim of race discrimination failed to show that other schools were treated more favorably by the state.

Sixth Circuit Mulls Police Shooting of Dogs

Dogs are routinely euthanized after some civil process, typically when a dog has been found to be a danger to people.

But in a Michigan case, police executed three dogs during a search for drugs. They said the animals bared their teeth and charged them.

The owners sued for civil rights violations, but a trial judge thew out their case. In arguments to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges searched for the truth.

There is certain to be some pushback to any new law that restricts activity on the World Wide Web. Sometimes, thanks to the web the internet has woven, unlikely allies can unite to fight a common cause. And when Ohio passed its recent internet harassment law, an unlikely duo from across the partisan aisles joined forces to challenge it.

Although the challenge seems to make logical sense, it appears to suffer from some procedural defects. According to the federal district court in Ohio, the challenge had to be dismissed on the 12(b)1 subject matter jurisdiction challenge for lack of standing. The decision, in large part, rests upon the fact that neither challenger has faced actual consequences, nor suffered an actual injury, as a result of the new law.

A recently filed federal wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee alleges excessive force in relation to law enforcement's controversial killing of Michael Dial in April 2017.

The officers involved in the shooting were cleared of wrong doing by the county, which believed the officers acted reasonably. However, Sheriff Oddie Shoupe's statements, captured on audio from the scene after the shooting, belies the county's belief and could be strong evidence for Dial's survivors.