A federal district court judge has blocked an effort by the Texas Secretary of State to purge voter rolls of non-citizens. The lawsuit was filed in objection to a recent program in which driver license records were matched against voter registration records in order to locate ineligible voters. In his opinion, Judge Fred Biery…
Last week, tech giant Google announced that it will be dropping its forced arbitration requirements, effectively allowing employees to sue Google in court, as well as join a class action lawsuit if they so choose. The news comes after months of effort and activism by a group of Google employees who have been working to effect change within the company since fall 2018. The initial disagreement related to the way Google allegedly handled sexual harassment and abuse controversies and resulted in a worldwide walkout of approximately 20,000 employees.
The US Supreme Court issued three decisions this week. In the first, Moore v. Texas, the Court reversed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on a death penalty case that had already come before the Court once, during its 2016 term. This time, the Court made its decision without oral argument. In a per curiam (unsigned) opinion, the Court held that the Texas court's redetermination that the defendant in that case does not have an intellectual disability and is thus eligible for the death penalty is inconsistent with with the Court's earlier decision in the same case.
United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Calls for Return to Originalism in First Amendment Jurisprudence
On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Katherine Mae McKee v. William H. Cosby, Jr., 586 U.S. ___ (2019), a lawsuit concerning Katherine McKee's claim against Bill Cosby for defamation where Cosby's lawyers released a letter allegedly damaging McKee's reputation for truthfulness and honesty. The First Circuit found McKee became a limited-purpose public figure when she made sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby and, as such, would need to prove that the statements in the letter were both false and made with actual malice. United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, writing a concurring opinion in the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari, called for a reconsideration of the doctrinal basis for First Amendment cases concerning defamation and libel.
A group of 16 states, including the border states of California and New Mexico, has gone to court to challenge the Trump administration's attempt to invoke emergency powers in order to fund the construction of a border wall. The lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in San Francisco, raises not only constitutional issues related to who controls federal spending, but also may turn on issues of standing and statutory interpretation.
In the latest legal challenge to the US Customs and Border Protection agency's broad authority over the border zone, two women from Montana have filed suit after being detained at a gas station solely for speaking Spanish.
Sprint, a competitor of AT&T, has filed a lawsuit in federal court to attack the use of 5G Evolution branding by AT&T. It argues that this phrase and the 5GE tag associated with it are misleading because these phones and networks do not use 5G technology. Sprint is asking the court for an injunction against AT&T to stop it from using 5GE tags.
On February 25th, 2019, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments in Manhattan Community Access Corporation v. Halleck, a case that has garnered press attention for its First Amendment subject matter. The Court is being asked to consider, “when (if ever) the actions of a private nonprofit corporation operating a public access television channel…
New Jersey Residents May Now Change Their Birth Certificates to Reflect Gender-Neutral or Non-Binary Identities
On February 1, 2019, New Jersey joined Washington, Oregon, and California as the fourth U.S. state to allow its residents to change the gender designation on their birth certificates to reflect a gender-neutral identity. New York City has a law that allows residents to change their birth certificates accordingly as well. The New Jersey law covers transgender individuals who have undergone gender affirming surgery or simply identify as a gender different from what was assigned to them at birth. This includes non-binary individuals who may not identify strictly as male or female. The aim is to allow each individual to make a choice about their own identity, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal. The options now available to New Jersey residents are ‘male,’ ‘female,’ and a third option called ‘undesignated’ or ‘non-binary.’
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Doubles Down on Position That Title VII Does Not Protect LGBT Employees
On February 6, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin—does not protect employees from discrimination on the basis of transgender identity. In doing so, the court also affirmed its own 1979 decision that Title VII does not protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That interpretation of Title VII is at odds with the present interpretation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—the agency charged with enforcing Title VII—as well as that of several other federal circuit courts.