Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Ohio Sues Drug Companies for Misleading Marketing

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Ohio's top lawyer says that Big Pharma helped fuel the opioid epidemic. A Michigan farmer wants the right to sell his fruit and discriminate against same-sex couples. And progressives are trying hard to keep Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

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

Five major drug manufacturers reportedly misled consumers by downplaying the addictive risks of opioid painkillers and exaggerating their benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by the State of Ohio against those companies. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine claims that the drug companies fueled an epidemic of drug dependency with marketing campaigns for drugs like Percocet and OxyContin.

Accused Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Lewis Dear Jr. will be getting a new judge to handle his case this summer. On August 1, his current judge, Gilbert Martinez, will be retiring, and Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Nancy Rice appointed District Court Judge William Bain to find a replacement judge. Dear has been found incompetent to stand trial four times for the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Steve Tennes, a Catholic Michigan farmer alleging that an East Lansing farmers market violated Tennes’ religious freedom. The market excluded him from the 2017 season due to his refusal to host same-sex ceremonies on his property and subsequent Facebook remarks he made about same-sex marriage. Tennes’ defense? Essentially, that his bigoted views have nothing to do with the delicious produce he sells.

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A fight over the construction of a mosque in New Jersey has come to an end. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Bernards Township, which had allegedly stalled construction of the mosque for discriminatory purposes. Under the terms of the settlement, construction will move forward. The settlement also resolved a separate lawsuit filed against the township by the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, the group that sought to build the mosque. In that lawsuit, the township was ordered to pay the Islamic Society $3.25 million in damages and attorneys’ fees.

San Antonio and Austin are suing the state of Texas over its controversial immigration law, SB 4. The cities allege that the law, which targets sanctuary cities and would empower law enforcement to arbitrarily question people about their immigration status, is unconstitutional.

Three urgent requests from DOJ landed at the U.S. Supreme Court’s door last week. Adam Liptak at the New York Times explains where Trump’s “it’s not a travel ban” travel ban stands in the lower courts and what the Court is likely to do.

This interview with Ari Berman, who has been vigilantly covering voter suppression efforts for the Nation, is worth checking out. He says that the attack on voting rights is about decreasing Black voter turnout. And we agree with him.

Liberal activists have launched public and private campaigns to keep the Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy from retiring. The very thought of his retirement—and the loss of his swing votes—gives Team Legal heartburn.

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