Legal Wrap: Corporate Religious Rights Find a Path to SCOTUS


Legal Wrap is a weekly round-up of key legal reproductive rights and justice news.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals took apart Eden Foods’ claims that as a secular, for-profit business it was entitled corporate religious rights. The opinion is the latest to reject conservatives’ attempts to create broad corporate protections under the guise of advancing religious liberty and is one more for the Roberts Court to consider as it weighs whether to enter into the legal dispute over the contraception benefit in Obamacare later this term.

On Monday, a federal court in Austin struck the hospital admitting requirement in HB 2, the massive omnibus anti-choice law that Republicans rammed through in a special session this summer.

Not surprisingly, conservatives are also looking to leverage religious accommodations into the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Erin Matson explains the impact such accommodations would have on ENDA here.

Attorneys for the State of Arizona filed their petition with the Supreme Court in support of their request that the Roberts Court take up the appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision that permanently blocks the state’s 20-week abortion ban. In a nutshell, they argue that it’s time to overturn Roe v. Wade and this is the perfect case for the Roberts Court to take up to do so. Could they be right?

A judge in Kansas is considering dismissing the stalking case brought by a Wichita abortion clinic operator against a pastor accused of handing out “wanted” posters with the operator’s name and address on them.

In Minnesota, an attorney representing a man charged in the death of his wife and her fetus argued that the court should dismiss the counts related to the death of the fetus since his wife was only 15 weeks pregnant at the time, making the end of the pregnancy a “criminal abortion” and not murder.

In Alabama, anti-choice activists are not satisfied with the current targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law and have asked the state health department to move forward with implementing even stricter regulations on reproductive health-care clinics.

Planned Parenthood and attorneys for the State of Kansas are both asking a federal judge to rule without a trial in a lawsuit challenging a requirement that the home pages of abortion providers’ websites link to a state site on abortion and fetal development. Planned Parenthood argues the requirement violates its First Amendment rights.

Courts in both New Mexico and Wisconsin heard arguments in favor of marriage equality. In New Mexico, the state is considering challenges to local clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor that struck a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, while the Wisconsin supreme court is weighing whether the state’s domestic partnership law is constitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court will reenter the death penalty debate to look at how state authorities determine who is mentally competent enough to be put to death.

In closing, a new portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., showing the Supreme Court’s four female justices together. It’s pretty amazing.

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Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy