Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Judge Orders Kentucky’s D and E Ban Remain Blocked

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

And same-sex marriage foes are taking a page from the anti-abortion playbook to restrict the rights of same-sex couples in the states.

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

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. McKinley issued an order banning enforcement of Kentucky’s dilation and evacuation ban until the trial takes place in November. HB 454 bans the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure at 11 weeks’ post-fertilization except in cases of medical emergency. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing that D and E bans are “safe and medically proven.”

Writing for BuzzFeed, Dominic Holden describes how Republicans began to use the anti-abortion playbook to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage. Just as abortion foes have attacked Roe v. Wade by chipping away at abortion access on the state level, same-sex marriage opponents are chipping away at the rights of same-sex couples to enjoy the same privileges as opposite-sex couples by, for example, passing legislation that allows publicly funded adoption agencies to reject gay applicants or allowing magistrates to exempt themselves from providing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

After last year’s leak of a redacted federal report on the FBI’s “Black Identity Extremist” classification, dozens of civil rights groups, including the ACLU and the Center for Media Justice, have demanded the FBI release the unredacted report in full. The civil rights organizations have also demanded the release of an unredacted copy of a Department of Homeland Security document known as the “Race Paper,” which the groups say raise concerns about racial profiling and surveillance.

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Dana Zzyym, who is intersex, has been battling the U.S. State Department for four years to get a passport reflecting their gender identity. Passports allow only for male or female designations, but Zzyym is neither and wants their official documents to reflect that. Zzyym is suing the State Department, saying the denial of a gender-neutral passport violates their Fifth Amendment rights.

More evidence that diversity on the bench matters: Studies show that Republican-appointed judges hand out longer sentences to Black people than to white people. This is shocking news to everyone reading this, I’m sure.

Students in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, were prevented from freely participating in in the gun reform demonstrations that swept schools in April following the Parkland shooting. Cue the ACLU of Kansas, which has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three students who claim that the school’s actions violated their First Amendment right to free speech and restricted their freedom of press.

Trump is doing the most to harm immigrants. Last week, he cut legal aid for migrant kids who have been separated from their parents. The program was intended to help unaccompanied minors, but now these young people must fend for themselves in a legal system that has become increasingly unkind to immigrants.

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