New York Methodist Hospital Exempt from Employment Laws

This case is the next in a series of cases involving whether religiously affiliated organizations must comply with federal employment-nondiscrimination laws.  By way of background, a 2012 Supreme Court decision declared that the First Amendment prohibits federal employment laws from applying to “ministers.”  The Court wrote: “The Establishment Clause prevents the Government from appointing ministers,… Read More New York Methodist Hospital Exempt from Employment Laws

Prisons Allowed to Permanently Deny Inmates Visits with Family

In 1998, Clarence Easterling, a Wisconsin man, was put on probation after being convicted of sexually assaulting a minor female.  Then, three years later, his daughter was born shortly before he was sentenced to 25 years for armed robbery.  Easterling has tried both in 2004 and 2013 to get his daughter to visit him, but… Read More Prisons Allowed to Permanently Deny Inmates Visits with Family

Individual TV Producers Allowed to Sue Private Operator of Public Access Channel Over Controversial Video

In New York, cable TV providers must provide their customers at least one public access channel.  A public access channel is one that is “designated for noncommercial use by the public on a first-come, first-served, nondiscriminatory basis.”  In Manhattan, a private non-profit corporation called Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) operates one of Manhattan’s public access channels.… Read More Individual TV Producers Allowed to Sue Private Operator of Public Access Channel Over Controversial Video

Court Upholds Ohio’s “One Subject Only” Law for Voter Ballot Initiatives

Ohio, like most states, allows its state constitution to be amended via a “ballot initiative,” a proposed constitutional amendment that appears on the ballot state-wide and becomes part of the state constitution if it receives a simple majority of votes cast (other states require a supermajority). In 2016, a group of Ohio citizens wanted to… Read More Court Upholds Ohio’s “One Subject Only” Law for Voter Ballot Initiatives

Court Partially Strikes Down Campaign-Finance Laws of Austin, Texas

In the spirit of the 2018 midterms, campaign-finance laws in Austin, Texas were recently challenged by Donald Zimmerman, a former City Council member.  Specifically, he challenged three restrictions of a law enacted via a ballot initiative in 1997.  These three restrictions were (1) a $350 cap on contributions per contributor per election, (2) a prohibition… Read More Court Partially Strikes Down Campaign-Finance Laws of Austin, Texas

Texas May Not Prohibit Elected Officials from Endorsing “Sanctuary City” Policies

El Cenizo, Texas—a town of about 3,000 people—borders the Rio Grande in south central Texas.  Last year, it along with several other Texas cities (including Dallas, Houston, and Austin) sued the state of Texas over a controversial state law related to so-called “sanctuary city” policies. But before we get into the cities’ lawsuit, you have… Read More Texas May Not Prohibit Elected Officials from Endorsing “Sanctuary City” Policies

No First Amendment Right of Public Access to Court Documents in Death Penalty Cases

In general, the public has a First Amendment right to access court documents in both civil and criminal cases. Larry Flynt lives in Missouri and tried to access confidential (or “sealed”) court records in a death-penalty case.  Specifically, he wanted access to documents about Missouri’s death-penalty protocol and medical members of its execution team, questioning… Read More No First Amendment Right of Public Access to Court Documents in Death Penalty Cases