Legal Wrap: Progressive Groups Increase Pressure on Judicial Nominations


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

It’s easy for conservatives’ state-level attacks on reproductive rights and the social safety net to monopolize our attention, but legislatures are only one front in that battle. The courts matter, and right now they matter a lot. That’s why the campaign to oppose Michael Boggs for the federal bench is important. Adele Stan has the latest on the coalition of progressive organizations leading this fight, and I explain here how the Boggs nomination has even advanced this far.

Cynthia Greenlee has this must-read piece on Darrin Manning and reproductive justice for young men of color.

An evangelical couple in Maine has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a recently passed buffer zone law in Portland.

A Pennsylvania woman is facing prosecution after ordering her daughter abortion-inducing pills online.

In Montana, a popular softball coach at a Catholic high school lost her contract because she also works at Planned Parenthood.

A new bill proposed in Iowa would allow women to sue their doctors for emotional distress if they later come to regret their abortion.

Since 2011, South Dakota lawmakers have spent about $170,000 in taxpayer money defending just one of the many anti-choice laws in the state.

Virginia officials will appeal a lower court’s ruling bringing marriage equality to the state. That’s despite the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder told state attorneys general that they have no obligation to defend same-sex marriage bans in their states.

Despite the fact that he says nothing from the bench, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas may be one of the most influential legal minds in the country. And that’s scary.

Here’s some better Supreme Court news: The Court turned away two separate requests by the National Rifle Association to loosen gun laws that restrict anyone under 21 from buying or carrying a handgun.

The Court also turned away Arizona’s Planned Parenthood funding ban, which means the Roberts Court has now twice let stand an appellate court decision blocking states’ attempts to strip the women’s health-care provider from Medicaid programs.

Good news! Massachusetts just enacted emergency regulations prohibiting the shackling of pregnant inmates.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, lawmakers introduced a statewide Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Anti-contraception forces at the University of Notre Dame lost at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals last week as the court refused to overturn an order shielding the university from complying with the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

Imani Gandy has this excellent piece on the legal challenges to the mandate. She asks the simple, yet so far ellusive, question: Where are the women in these cases?

Speaking of the University of Notre Dame, RH Reality Check launched a new legal podcast this month, and the inaugural episode takes a look at Notre Dame’s legal challenge to the contraception mandate and the argument that corporations have religious rights. The podcast will run monthly and discuss the legal ins and outs of reproductive rights and justice issues, with a dash of commentary from me and Imani Gandy. Check it out!

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Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy