Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Who’s Legally Responsible for Trump Rally Violence?

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

Not I, says a white supremacist accused of assaulting a Black protester at a Kentucky event last year. And he's pointing the finger right back at President Trump.

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

A white nationalist hooligan who roughed up a Black woman at a March 2016 Trump rally is defending himself in court by claiming that then-candidate Donald Trump directed him and other supporters to remove protesters. He says that the campaign or Trump himself is liable for any damages.

Trump’s lawyers argued in federal court that anti-Trump protesters infringed on Trump’s First Amendment rights by expressing dissenting views at his campaign rallies. Apparently, neither Donald Trump nor his lawyers understand what the First Amendment is or how it works.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera says he is not going to let Trump bully the city into complying with federal immigration detainee requests. Meanwhile, San Francisco proceeds with its court battle to remain a sanctuary city.

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A Utah judge is under fire for referring to a former Mormon bishop as an “extraordinary, good man” before sentencing him to up to life in prison for the rape and sexual assault of two women.

A Pennsylvania appeals court has ruled that a same-sex couple had a legitimate common law marriage decades before same-sex marriage was legalized in Pennsylvania, thus entitling the surviving partner to the same legal rights that any widower would have following their spouse’s death.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expects that a Supreme Court justice will resign this summer, opening up the horrific possibility that Trump will get to appoint another justice. It’s perfectly fine to start panicking now.

A transgender woman filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho because it refused to change the gender on her birth certificate.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is backing a Jenison High School transgender student who is being denied the ability to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity. An attorney with ACLU Michigan wrote a letter to Jenison Public Schools Superintendent Tom TenBrink explaining why the school’s bathroom options for trans students are discriminatory.

A transgender student at a charter school operated by Great Hearts Academies in Arizona is also challenging his school’s discriminatory bathroom policy. In June, the school had quietly passed a “biological sex and gender policy” that also means school staff can’t call the student by male pronouns or by his chosen name.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from those challenging the Trump administration’s travel ban to hear the case en banc—meaning in front of the full court.

In response to an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit challenging Georgia Gwinnett College’s speech policies, the school said it refused to let a Christian student speak even in campus free speech zones because the content rose to the level of “fighting words.” And “fighting words”—those that can incite conflict—can be restricted under the First Amendment.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Montana against Andrew Anglin, the owner of the neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer, on behalf of a Jewish woman targeted in an anti-Semitic “troll storm” that Anglin instigated. The woman’s attorney said that the First Amendment protects the expression of opinions but not the “terroristic personal threats and attacks on private citizens.”

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