Justice Stephen Breyer. (photo: AP)
Tarini Parti | Politico | March 26, 2015
The case could affect redistricting in other racially polarized states.
he Supreme Court stopped just short of ruling Alabama’s redistricting plan unconstitutional on Wednesday, but it sent a clear message to lawmakers across the country that the Voting Rights Act can’t be used to justify maps that predominately group voters together based on their race.
In a 5-4 ruling, the high court sided with black lawmakers and Democrats in Alabama in throwing out a lower court’s decision that upheld the GOP-drawn state legislative map. This was the court’s second high-stakes decision in two years dealing with the Voting Rights Act and will likely have an affect on redistricting legal battles in states like Virginia and North Carolina.
The case was brought by African-American lawmakers in Alabama who argued that the Republican-controlled Legislature packed thousands of black voters into existing majority-black state legislative districts to secure a GOP-advantage in the other districts. Republican lawmakers have maintained they were complying with the Voting Rights Act in moving the black voters to existing majority-minority districts.
Jurist | March 17, 2015
[JURIST] A transgender inmate in Massachusetts on Monday asked [cert. petition PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to overturn a ruling denying her request for sex reassignment surgery. The question at issue is whether “the Eighth Amendment prohibits prison officials from denying necessary medical treatment to a prisoner for non-medical reasons, such as security concerns.” According to the petition, the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) “violated the Eighth Amendment by refusing to provide petitioner … with necessary medical treatment that had been recommended by the DOC’s own doctors.” Although the trial court, as well as the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled for the inmate, Michelle Kosilek, the First Circuit granted a petition for rehearing where the decision was reversed, thus holding that there had been no Eighth Amendment violation.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights remain controversial throughout the US. Earlier this month the governor of Kansas rescinded [JURIST report] an executive order protecting LGBT state employees from the discrimination, and the Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [Reuters report] that would protect clergy members from involvement in lawsuits for their refusal to conduct same-sex marriages. Also this month the Florida House of Representatives [official website] introduced a bill that could prohibit [Huffington Post report] transgender people from choosing a bathroom, instead confining them to use the bathroom designated to the sex a person was at birth.
Barney Frank (CNN)
Eric Bradner | CNN | South Florida Gay News | March 23, 2015
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Rep. Barney Frank says he believes there are still closeted gay members of Congress — and he has no problem with them staying that way, as long as they’re not hypocrites.
The Massachusetts Democrat’s comments came as he discussed his new book, “Frank,” with CNN’s Gloria Borger on Sunday’s “State of the Union.”
He discussed telling then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill that he is gay — and said he thinks there are still closeted gay members in the House.
Screenshot of the video of unarmed Anthony Hill. (photo: YouTube)
Alice Speri | Vice | Reader Supported News | March 23, 2015
hen a Georgia police officer shot and killed Anthony Hill outside of Atlanta earlier this week, their interaction followed the script of countless others before it.
Someone called the police to report that Hill, a black Air Force vet with a history of bipolar disorder, was running around a residential complex — naked. Police later said that he was acting “deranged” and that he lunged at the officer who shot him. Hill was unarmed and evidently in the middle of a mental breakdown, but he ended up dead instead of in a mental healthcare facility.
This is an increasing occurrence, as mentally ill people regularly fail to receive the care they need and end up in often deadly encounters with law enforcement.
Officer in school. (photo: Billings Gazette)
Harold Jordan | Reader Supported News | March 22, 2015
s talk of law enforcement reform continues to swirl in the aftermath of the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report, some communities have quietly made progress in addressing how police interact with students.
Traditionally, police stepped on school grounds to respond to emergencies, such as those involving threats or major acts of violence, or to provide security, such as at arrival and dismissal times and at special events. What’s new is the growing trend of having police stationed in schools full-time. In other words, schools have become some officers’ beat. And like traditional policing, many officers walk this beat armed.
The consequence has been the rise of the school-to-prison pipeline, a disturbing trend where police officers get involved in routine student conflicts and disciplinary matters that are not particularly dangerous or violent. The result is too often an escalation of the incident resulting in students’ removal from school through arrest, citation, or fine.