Legal Wrap: Supreme Court Gives Susan B. Anthony List Legal Challenge New Life


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

On Monday, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List could move forward and challenge Ohio’s “false statements” law, which essentially criminalizes lying in elections. The opinion didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the Ohio law; instead, it ruled that the anti-choice advocacy organization had legal standing to sue. I’ve got a breakdown of the decision here and explain that while the Ohio elections law is pretty bad and should probably be struck down, we can’t forget that the entire reason the Susan B. Anthony List sued was to be able to intentionally deceive voters on the issue of taxpayer funding for abortions.

The Court announced it will take up for next term the case Elonis v. United States to consider when an online communication is actually a “true threat” and when it’s just violent, misogynistic “free speech.” Here’s an overview of the case (warning, the article contains violent language), which we’ll be watching closely.

The Supreme Court also announced it would not hear a case involving a public high school graduation that a suburban Milwaukee school district held in an evangelical church. The decision by the Court leaves in place an appeals court ruling that holding graduation ceremonies in the church is unconstitutional.

While we’re waiting on the Roberts Court for a decision in Hobby Lobby, Imani Gandy has this piece on why we need to push back against employers’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, a federal appeals court ruled that some Catholic nonprofits must comply with the birth control benefit.

A new report by the progressive advocacy organization Alliance for Justice notes that while our federal courts are still in the midst of a vacancy crisis, the overall diversity of the federal bench has improved under President Obama.

Related: it’s looking more and more likely that embattled judicial nominee Michael Boggs will never get a vote.

Louisiana has enacted a Texas-style omnibus anti-abortion bill that requires providers to obtain admitting privileges, imposes a 24-hour waiting period on medication abortions, and reduces the number of abortions a doctor must perform in a given year to be considered a provider (and thus subject to heightened regulations). As Teddy Wilson reports, reproductive health-care access in Louisiana was already in crisis, and these new regulations threaten to make matters worse.

A new bill recently enacted in Florida places even more restrictions on abortions performed in the third trimester and bans abortion at any point in a pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus is viable.

Florida is not the only state pushing the limits on the viability standard, by the way.

This should not happen in 2014: A woman dies after being sent to jail in Pennsylvania over unpaid child truancy fines. Tara Murtha reports here.

More than ten years after the Supreme Court ruled state bans on consensual sodomy are unconstitutional, an Alabama court finally struck down the state’s anti-sodomy statute. Alabama’s attorney general has said he plans to appeal the ruling.

A federal court in Maine heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging a recently enacted buffer zone around an abortion clinic in Portland.

Meanwhile, an Iowa judge considered arguments over whether the state can ban the administration of abortion-inducing medications via telemedicine.

A Dallas hospital that wrongfully tried to revoke two doctors’ admitting privileges because they provide legal abortion care has settled with the doctors and agreed to keep them credentialed at the hospital.

The New York Assembly passed a bill that would prevent employers from discriminating against their employees for their reproductive health-care decisions.

And more good news: President Obama will sign an executive order banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors.

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Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy