Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Kentucky in the Spotlight in Fights Over Abortion, LGBTQ Rights

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

The push in the states to roll back rights gains hasn't slowed down one bit.

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

A federal appeals court has revived the case against Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for refusing to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses after Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made state bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The appeals court overturned the case’s previous dismissal in the Kentucky lower court.

The New York Times has this look at the legal fight over the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

More Kentucky news: A state court judge has recused himself from all adoption cases involving same-sex couples, saying that it’s his belief that being raised by “homosexual parties” is never in the best interest of the child under any circumstances.

Attorneys for the State of Indiana have appealed a lower district court decision blocking a law that mandates patients must have an ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to an abortion.

Conservative anti-abortion advocacy group the Family Foundation of Virginia has filed a lawsuit challenging amendments to Virginia’s abortion-clinic licensing rules that removed unconstitutional targeted regulations on abortion providers, arguing the Virginia Board of Health overstepped its authority in doing so.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) warned U.S. Congress members that he was prepared to sue to protect abortion rights if the Senate passed the House version of Obamacare repeal.

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday blocked a newly enacted 72-hour waiting period for patients before having an abortion. The three-day waiting provision is part of a law that also bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but that provision remains in place.

More and more people accused of campus sexual assault are challenging university procedures for investigating claims and issuing Title IX violations, claiming their due process rights have been violated.

Civil rights groups have filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, demanding it release information about how federal officials at all U.S. borders, including airports, have treated Muslim travelers or people whom they perceive to be Muslim.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is prosecuting a Code Pink activist who laughed at him during his confirmation hearings. If convicted of disorderly conduct, the 61-year-old woman could end up with a sentence of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Meanwhile, Sessions’ recommendation to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Eric S. Dreiband, has a history of defending companies accused of discrimination. This includes representing Abercrombie & Fitch after it was sued for refusing to hire a Muslim woman because she wore a headscarf that conflicted with the company’s dress code. The Court ruled 8-1 against Abercrombie & Fitch in the case.

Anti-choice activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have asked a federal court to dismiss criminal charges against them for surreptitiously filming a conference of abortion providers and setting up a fake fetal-tissue procurement company to claim Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from fetal tissue donations. Those claims launched dozens of federal and state investigations into the reproductive health-care provider; so far, federal and state investigations have found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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