Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.
Jeff Sessions is wasting no time becoming the U.S. attorney general we thought he would. He ordered Department of Justice (DOJ) officials to review reform agreements with dozens of police departments nationwide. Why? Because these agreements, designed to improve relations between the police and communities of color, apparently don’t align with Trump’s goals of promoting officer safety (officers are already pretty safe) and fighting violent crime (which is still at decades-low levels despite increases in some offenses).
U.S. District Court Judge James Bredar approved a reform agreement between the DOJ and the Baltimore Police Department, essentially denying Sessions’ DOJ request for time to review the agreement.
And the DOJ is dodging Freedom of Information Act requests: It has refused to release any emails it may have between the DOJ’s Antitrust Division and Makan Delrahim, a corporate lobbyist and Trump’s nominee to head the antitrust division.
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Iowa State University has agreed to change its discrimination and harassment policies as part of a settlement with a conservative student who filed a lawsuit against the university’s president and others. The student claimed that administrators and faculty quashed his free speech rights when they warned him against promoting right-leaning views as he organized a local chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.
If you live in New Hampshire, feel free to take sexy ballot selfies if you’re into that. The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review a lower court ruling striking down New Hampshire’s ballot selfie ban.
The Court did agree to hear a death penalty case but sent two capital punishment cases back to lower courts after ruling last week that Texas’ standards for evaluating intellectual disability are unconstitutional.
Brand-spanking new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch may have plagiarized in his book and an academic article. But even if he did, it doesn’t matter because he has already been confirmed.
Tonja Jacobi and Dylan Schweers point out in SCOTUSBlog that when it comes to oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court, women justices get interrupted a whole lot more than the male justices do. Funny that.
Mark Joseph Stern writes in Slate that the lawyers defending Mississippi’s anti-LGBTQ religious discrimination law are gaslighting their opponents in court by arguing the law that plainly legalizes discrimination against LGBTQ people doesn’t actually legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people.
The last remaining statute barring LGBTQ people from adopting or fostering children has fallen. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling striking down the ban as unconstitutional.