Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.
The Maryland and District of Columbia attorneys general filed a lawsuit in federal court against President Trump today, alleging that he has violated the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause by accepting payments and benefits from foreign governments during his time as president. If the lawsuit moves forward, the attorneys general plan to seek Trump’s personal tax returns during the discovery process.
Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial wrapped up today. BuzzFeed has this summary of the trial.
Planet Fitness recently won a lawsuit against one of its customers, Yvette Cormier, who alleged she had suffered sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, and breach of contract due to Planet Fitness’ transgender-inclusive policies. The fitness chain revoked Cormier’s membership after she incessantly warned other customers about the gym’s policy, which allows patrons to use locker rooms aligned with their gender identity. The trial court ruled that Planet Fitness was entitled to summary judgment, and a Michigan appeals court agreed. Cormier may still appeal her case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that convicted sex offenders can be forced to pay the costs hospitals incur in performing so-called rape kits, which are sexual assault examinations on victims, according to the Denver Post. The ruling came in the cases of two convicted sex offenders who challenged court orders requiring them to pay the hospital costs of $500 or $700, respectively. The court said “rape kits” are an extraordinary investigative cost and can therefore be charged to convicted sex offenders.
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A federal judge is allowing a part of one of the Flint water lawsuits to go forward. In a lengthy order, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy ruled that plaintiffs—area residents Shari Guertin, her child, and Diogenes Muse-Cleveland—could pursue their lawsuit against the City of Flint, two former emergency managers, and nine other past or present government officials. Judge Levy dismissed several defendants, most notably Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, from the lawsuit.
The Family Research Council (FRC) is troubled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear United States v. Sterling, a case in which the conservative organization claims that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects a Marine’s decision to post scripture at her work station. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has said that service members must seek a religious accommodation. The FRC believes that appellate decision chills religious expression in the military.
The New York Times editorial board writes that Trump’s failure to fill any of the 93 U.S. attorney vacancies is “bizarre” and “revealing” given that he touted himself as the “law and order” candidate. We agree it’s bizarre coming from the man who said he would crack down on alleged lawbreakers and “crimmigration”—a wave of nonexistent crime Trump has blamed on immigrants—during the election campaign.
A former shift manager for several Amazon warehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area has filed a lawsuit against the company in state court, alleging that Amazon improperly classified the employee as exempt from overtime in violation of California labor laws and refused to pay him for the extra hours.
In the New York Times, domestic affairs correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes about the 50th anniversary and legacy of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage.