Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.
Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—the King of Voter Fraud insofar as he keeps insisting that voter fraud is a rampant problem despite all evidence to the contrary—was held in contempt of court this week after he disobeyed a federal court order in a case involving Kansas’s proof-of-citizenship law. The court had issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of a law that requires Kansans to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote. Kobach violated that injunction by refusing to update the secretary of state office’s website to inform some new voters that they are permitted to vote, and did not send postcards to voters who had not shown proof of citizenship when they registered that they could still vote, both as the court had ordered him.
A California woman won one of the largest judgments ever in a revenge porn case: $6.4 million. Next time you consider posting sexual photographs and videos of your ex because you’re pissed they broke up with you? Don’t. It could cost you.
A 53-year-old man in Oregon who has refused to pay taxes since 1999—claiming that his religious beliefs prohibit paying into a system that funds abortions—won a small battle in court last week. The court dismissed a felony tax evasion charge since the government had no evidence that the man had tried to conceal money or mislead the IRS. He has been very open about why he won’t pay. He will lose the war though: You don’t have a right to not pay your taxes because you don’t like how the government spends your money. Also, federal taxpayer dollars don’t fund abortion (although they should because the current system allows discrimination in the delivery of health care services, and abortion is health care.)
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals just handed Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and the Department of Justice a big loss: The court ruled that sanctuary cities are not required to help Trump execute his draconian deportation agenda in order to receive federal grant money. A lower court had ruled that the DOJ couldn’t deny $254 million in federal funds to jurisdictions who refuse to notify ICE when an undocumented immigrant is in their custody. The Trump administration had hoped to limit that ruling to Chicago, but no dice. The Seventh Circuit applied the rule not just to Chicago, but nationwide.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from an anti-choice pastor in Portland, Maine, who challenged a state law that placed limits on the amount of noise that protesters can generate outside of clinics. The lower court ruling upholding the law stands. The Rev. Andrew March filed the lawsuit after he was repeatedly told to keep his voice down while protesting outside a clinic because what every person who is seeking abortion care wants is to hear some dude yelling about going to hell.