Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Senate Blue Slip That Should Get a Pink Slip in Nominations Process

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

This week, why the Senate needs to trash an informal practice that gives senators more say in judicial nominations; two college sexual harassment cases; and Trump's Muslim ban is headed back to court.

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

Columnist Hugh Hewitt writes in the Washington Post that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) could rid the Senate of a peculiar practice—the “blue slip”—which is used as part of the judicial nominee confirmation process. That form is sent to the senators representing the home state of nominees; if that lawmaker isn’t for the nominee or doesn’t respond, that can spell trouble—essentially, blocking or jeopardizing a nomination. If Senate Democrats allow the blue slips to continue, then we’ll know that they’re serious about losing the federal judiciary forever.

The father of a University of Texas at Arlington student is suing the school, alleging that an investigation against his son for sexual misconduct violated Title IX. Just days after a school investigation found him responsible for sexual harassment, the student committed suicide. The lawsuit alleges that there was no evidence to support the accuser’s claim of sexual harassment.

A Cornell student is suing the university, claiming that while conducting an investigation against him for sexual misconduct, the school discriminated against him on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX. The student alleges that the investigation caused him to attempt suicide.

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An attorney for Notre Dame Preparatory High School admitted to the Michigan Supreme Court that his client had rejected for admission a student with a disability on nonreligious grounds. The attorney argued that a religious school has an absolute right under the First Amendment to decide who to admit or not, and that “this child, we don’t want to teach our religion to.” The student’s parents argue that the school has violated anti-discrimination laws by refusing to admit their student into the school.

Speculation is swirling that Justice Anthony Kennedy may retire at the end of this term, which would allow Trump to pick another ultra right-wing justice. This would be bad. Very, very bad. As in “we should start writing ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ songs and sending them to Justice Kennedy” bad.

U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos has ruled yet again that Texas’ voter ID law was passed intentionally to discriminate against voters of color.

The State of Hawaii has requested that the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a preliminary injunction blocking the executive order that bars people from six majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to rehear another case challenging Trump’s Muslim ban en banc, meaning in front of the full court. That hearing will be on May 8.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its affiliates have filed 13 Freedom of Information Act lawsuits seeking documents about how the ban is being implemented on-the-ground. When the ACLU announced plans to fight Trump, it meant it.

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