Law News Digest – Week of March 29, 2015

4/3

Federal judge orders California prison to pay for sex reassignment surgery for transgender inmate. Judge says inmate is experiencing “excruciating pain and frustration” due to denial of this “medical treatment,” thus denial violates her constitutional rights.

NYC gang member sentenced to life in prison after his rap music videos used as evidence against him for murders and other crimes.

Arkansas governor also signs amended “religious freedom” law, which now does not explicitly allow businesses to discriminate, but unlike the Indiana law does NOT explicitly bar any discrimination either.

4/2

Indiana governor signs amended “religious freedom” law which now bars businesses from discriminating against LGBT people and others.

New law in Kansas allows residents to carry concealed weapons without training or a permit. 5 other states have similar laws, and 9 states are considering them.

4/1

Madison, Wisconsin city council voted today to ban discrimination against atheists, and is believed to be the first city or state in the U.S. to do so.

California governor ordered cities to cut water use by 25%. Residents will likely see higher rates. Farmers are exempt.

Arkansas governor says he won’t sign “religious freedom” bill unless changes are made to address potential for discrimination.

3/31

Obama releases 22 nonviolent federal prisoners convicted of selling drugs, and plans to release more. And yes, he has the authority to do this – it’s explicit in the Constitution (Article II, Section 2).

Arkansas legislature passed “religious freedom” law today, which, like Indiana’s, would allow businesses to discriminate. The governor has not yet signed it but is expected to do so.

While violent crime in the U.S. is at lowest level in decades, the percentage of crimes “solved” is disturbingly low. In 2013, police identified suspects in only 64% of homicides nationwide.

3/30

Fallout continues over Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people and others.

Although 19 other states have so called “religious freedom” laws, Indiana’s is the only one to explicitly allow for-profit businesses to discriminate. Other states’ laws apply only to individuals and religious organizations.

Free speech vs. preventing violence: In 2010, school officials told white students not to wear American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo, as officials believed the shirts could lead to interracial violence, which had been ongoing. Federal courts ruled that the school’s actions were legal and did not violate the 1st amendment. Today the Supreme Court declined to take the case, meaning the lower courts’ rulings stand.

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