Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Gorsuch Emails Raise Questions About His Positions on Voting Rights, Torture

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

In other news, the Southern Poverty Law Center wins a victory against a modern debtors' prison in Alabama, and it intends to investigate if anti-LGBTQ groups are influencing Trump administration policies.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

Emails from U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch suggest he may be hostile to voting rights. Or at least approving of the leading Republican activist behind voter suppression efforts. Either way, it’s bad news for voters of color.

When Gorsuch was a top Department of Justice official during the George W. Bush administration, he sent an email to a White House colleague in case that colleague needed “cheering up” in face of a recent setback. That setback? Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which tightened legal restrictions on torture.

Yuvraj Joshi writes for NBC News that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch may be more religious than the staunchest religious conservative currently on the Court.

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If Neil Gorsuch is confirmed, it could signal the death knell of Chevron deference, a long-standing judicial principle that grants an administrative agency like the Environmental Protection Agency considerable say when it comes to interpreting the statute that created that agency.

An Alabama town settled a lawsuit with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in which it agreed to stop operating modern-day debtors’ prisons by jailing people too poor to pay court fees and fines for traffic tickets and misdemeanors.

The SPLC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information on whether extremists are driving White House policies on LGBTQ matters, including a potentially impending “religious freedom” executive order that will sanction discrimination against LGBTQ folks.

At an event sponsored by a Catholic lawyers’ association, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito complained that the country was becoming “hostile” to “traditional moral beliefs.” Sure, Sam.

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that a lower court must grant Malik Muntaqim, who is a member of the Nation of Islam and incarcerated, a hearing on his claims that the Arkansas Department of Correction violated his First Amendment rights when it denied him access to religious materials required for him to practice his faith.

After Everett, Washington, spent millions combating drug use in the city, the pharmaceutical company that makes OxyContin knowingly allowed pills to be funneled into the black market, according to a lawsuit the city filed in federal court against Purdue Pharma.

Chief Judge Gilbert Martinez, who has been presiding over the case of admitted Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dearis slated to retire at the end of July. The new chief judge will decide who will replace Martinez.

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe is taking its fight over the Dakota Access pipeline to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. They’re requesting an emergency injunction pending appeal from a district court’s March 7 order, which denied the tribe’s petition for an injunction under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Ohio’s wildly unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban took effect last week.

In November, Arizona voters approved a minimum-wage increase. The Arizona Supreme Court just rejected a challenge to that increase.

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