Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.
U.S. District Court Judge William Young dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s assault weapons ban. Massachusetts has banned assault weapons for 20 years, and Judge Young said that the ban did not violate the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large-capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear Arms.’” You don’t say.
The Trump administration’s decision to add a new question about U.S. citizenship to the 2020 census has sparked several lawsuits, including a new one that a group of 17 states, the District of Columbia, and six major cities filed last week. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who coordinated the lawsuit, said, “This is a blatant effort to undermine the census and prevent the census from carrying out its Constitutional mandate.”
A federal judge ruled that Texas has been violating the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also known as the “motor voter” law, because the state wasn’t automatically registering people to vote when they go online to obtain or renew a drivers license. The NVRA requires state governments to permit people to apply to register to vote for federal elections when they apply for or seek to renew a driver’s license. According to court documents, the judge’s ruling could affect the 1.5 million Texans who renew their drivers licenses online every year.
A federal judge in Montana is poised to decide whether Andrew Anglin—a neo-Nazi and publisher of the odious Daily Stormer—has a First Amendment right to sic his hordes of racist and anti-Semitic trolls to harass and send death threats to the family of Tanya Gersh, a real estate agent whom Anglin believes wronged Richard Spencer’s mother. (Yes, that Richard Spencer—of punching fame.) Anglin’s attorneys are arguing that their client was engaged in protected political speech and that he is not responsible for the actions of his followers.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to halt bond hearings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Jennings v. Rodriguez. In that case, the high court said that undocumented immigrants are not entitled to bond hearings. “Immigrants are entitled to due process, and bond hearings are a vital safeguard against the unjustified and prolonged imprisonment that the Trump regime seeks to impose on all immigrants,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) has nominated Associate Supreme Court Justice Richard Robinson for chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. If the legislature confirms him, Justice Robinson will be the first Black chief justice.