Civil Rights

Recent Case: Collins v. Thurmond

November 26, 2019

Discriminatory school discipline practices have been the subject of much controversy in recent years. In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Education, led by Secretary Betsy DeVos, rolled back Obama-era guidance aimed at reducing racial disparities in school discipline. The move drew opposition from both state attorneys general and civil rights leaders, who worried about…

Recent Case: Winzer v. Kaufman County

November 11, 2019

What is the difference between a legal opinion and an op-ed column?  Judge James Ho of the Fifth Circuit appears to think not much.  Recently, in Winzer v. Kaufman County, Judge Ho penned a dissent from an order denying a petition for rehearing en banc that seems better suited for the pages of the Dallas…

Recent Case: Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Azar

November 6, 2019

The impact of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of “sex” in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this Term may not be limited to enforcement of the Civil Rights Act. In fact, many federal statutes, including the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), have adopted identical language. Recently in Franciscan Alliance,…

Recent Case: Mitchell v. City of Cedar Rapids

April 23, 2019

The incident that gave rise to Mitchell v. City of Cedar Rapids, recently decided by the Iowa Supreme Court, should sound familiar by now.  In November 2016, a Cedar Rapids white police officer, Lucas Jones, stopped a black motorist, Jerime Mitchell, for a minor traffic violation.  When Mitchell attempted to drive away, Jones shot him,…

Recent Case: Gibson v. Collier

April 12, 2019

Transgender rights are facing a backlash.  Scientific knowledge of the impacts of gender dysphoria (GD) has grown immensely, and medical care for transgender people is increasingly accessible.  These developments have not been paralleled in the courts.  Recently, in Gibson v. Collier, the Fifth Circuit held that a state policy that does not permit gender affirmation…

Recent Case: Jones v. Carter

March 13, 2019

Prisoners lose many of their rights when they walk through the jailhouse door, but the free exercise of religion is not one of them. Correctional officers must provide certain accommodations for prisoners’ religious exercise, including offering religious diets. To accommodate such diets, the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC) has some facilities with kosher kitchens, and…

For-Profit Schools’ Predatory Practices and Students of Color: A Mission to Enroll Rather than Educate

July 30, 2018

In a move with significant implications for federal civil rights enforcement, the Department of Education has halted investigations into several large for-profit institutions widely accused of defrauding students. This decision sends an even clearer message that the Department of Education stands on the side of corrupt corporations rather than with students. Its decision allows these…

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Double Jeopardy All Over Again?

April 30, 2018

What if Donald Trump pardons people identified as targets by Robert Mueller before, during, or after they are prosecuted in federal court? Would those people escape accountability for their acts, or would a state—particularly New York State, which has jurisdiction over Trump Tower and several key players—be able to prosecute them for what is defined…

Missing Data and Anti-Discrimination Laws

April 2, 2018

In February, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office published an analysis concluding that drivers living in the state’s predominantly minority communities are charged higher auto insurance premiums than similar drivers living in majority white communities. In fact, the study found that experienced drivers with good driving records in the largest minority population areas pay more for…

Why the Insular Cases Must Become the Next Plessy

March 28, 2018

Americans who call U.S. territories home face unprecedented challenges. Six months after Hurricanes Maria and Irma wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, many still lack electricity. Guam continues to sit in the nuclear cross-hairs of North Korea. And the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa are experiencing severe economic upheaval following…