Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.
Jane Eisner of the Forward interviewed Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You’ll be comforted to know that when RBG was asked if she is going to step down from the bench, she said, “I’m just candid and say as long as I can do the job full steam, I will be here.”
Oral arguments in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are coming up at the U.S. Supreme Court. Janus is a case challenging a law that allows unions to charge all of their represented workers for the cost of that representation even if they opt out of the union. Basically, unions charge employees to represent them during bargaining negotiations. Mark Janus, a state worker in Illinois, says that he shouldn’t be forced to pay for speech—union negotiations—with which he does not agree. It’s another hot First Amendment case.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of three transgender plaintiffs who say that it’s nearly impossible for trans people to meet Alabama’s requirements for changing the gender on their driver’s license. Alabama is one of nine states that requires gender reassignment surgery or a court order that includes proof of a surgery before it will change gender on this form of state identification.
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Federal judges are the last line of defense in stopping both individual and mass deportations by the Trump administration. These judges aren’t deciding the cases on the merits—because they don’t have jurisdiction and can’t—but are concerned about the lack of due process afforded these immigrants and are halting deportation orders in order to give immigrants time to fight their cases in immigration courts.
Last week, 18-year-old Nova Maday, a Chicago-area transgender student, appealed a state court ruling that denied her request that her high school grant her full and equal access to the girls’ locker room.
If you think zoning law is fascinating, boy, do I have a case for you. A Laurel, Maryland, church is challenging a zoning code because the city won’t let it use the property for a nonprofit coffee shop and house of worship.
A federal judge ruled in favor of an incarcerated transgender person who challenged the Missouri prison system’s refusal to provide hormonal treatment to people who were not receiving treatment before they were incarcerated. Plaintiff Jessica Hicklin is a 38-year-old trans woman who has been incarcerated since she was 16.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Harvey Weinstein, his brother and business partner Bob Weinstein, and their production company for alleged civil rights violations stemming from rampant sexual abuse allegations.
Vice Media is back in the spotlight for terrible reasons: They’re being sued by a woman who alleges that the company pays female employees less than male employees and that they do it systematically and intentionally. The class action lawsuit alleges Vice violated equal pay laws in both New York and California.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is set to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner of Indiana State Department of Health challenging the constitutionality of House Enrolled Act 1337, which prohibits abortion on the basis of a fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or disability. A federal judge blocked this so-called anti-discrimination provision in June 2016 finding it unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade.