On Tuesday, both the Oregon House and the Iowa Senate passed bills that would prohibit health care professionals from providing therapy aimed at changing a patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity. California is the first state in the nation to ban this type of therapy, by way of legislation enacted in 2012.
Also on Tuesday, the Indiana Senate voted unanimously to allow terminally ill patients to get access to experimental drugs and treatments that are not yet approved for sale on the open market.
On Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that an exotic dancer wounded while performing was an employee, not an independent contractor, and therefore entitled to workers’ compensation.
On Tuesday, the Utah Legislature approved a bill that allows executions to be carried out by firing squad.
Also on Tuesday, a group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill that would lift the federal ban on medical marijuana.
On Thursday, the FCC released its 400-page order on net neutrality.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Alabama issued an order halting same-sex marriages, in spite of Federal court direction to issue licenses.
Also on Tuesday, Slovenia became the eleventh nation in the European Union to recognize same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report indicating that it will not prosecute the former Ferguson, MO, police officer who shot and killed unarmed African-American teenager, Michael Brown, in August of 2014. Read the full report here. Another DOJ report investigating the Ferguson police department, also released Wednesday, found that African Americans were frequently victims of discriminatory and illegal conduct by the law enforcement system in Ferguson.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, which challenges the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
A Massachusetts teen has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after allegedly using text messages to encourage a friend’s suicide.
On Tuesday, President Obama vetoed legislation authorizing the Keystone LX pipeline.
On Tuesday night, a Texas jury convicted Eddie Ray Routh of murder and sentenced him to life in prison for the fatal shootings of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.
Also on Tuesday, Alaska became the third state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use, although the sale of marijuana remains illegal.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch for the position of U.S. Attorney General. The nomination now moves on for consideration by the full Senate.
Also on Thursday, the FCC approved net neutrality, and will now regard Internet providers as public utilities, subject to regulation.
An appeals court in Utah has granted a widow the right to sue herself for causing an auto accident that resulted in the death of her husband. Read the full opinion here.
The operator of a defunct revenge-porn website has filed a takedown request with Google, stating that his own photograph and personal information are being used without his permission.
In her dissent yesterday in the Yates evidence-destruction case, Justice Elena Kagan gave Dr. Seuss his first citation in a decision of the United States Supreme Court. Read the entire opinion here.
On Monday night, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas, issued a temporary injunction to block implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration. The injunction was a response to a challenge to the orders filed by 26 states, a suit that the administration contends is without merit.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review overturned the terrorism convictions of David Hicks, a former detainee at Guantanamo.
Two U.S. law schools, the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law, have announced that they will admit some students without requiring that they take the LSAT.
The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the nation’s ban on physician-assisted suicide. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Colorado legislators have rejected a bill that would have made assisted suicide available to terminally-ill patients. Five states currently permit physician-assisted suicide: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Montana.
On Monday, Alabama became the latest state to recognize marriage equality, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the state Attorney General for the extension of a stay of a federal injunction prohibiting him from enforcing Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. Probate courts in a majority of Alabama’s 67 counties, however, are refusing to issue marriage licenses, either rejecting same-sex couples outright or closing their offices, after a call to such action by Chief Justice Roy Moore. On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Mobile County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Marriage equality supporters hope that this order will clarify the issue in other counties.
On Wednesday, the captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years on various charges related to the 2012 shipwreck.
On Thursday, Facebook announced that it will permit users to name a “legacy contact” who will be able to administer a page following a user’s demise. This is a departure from Facebook’s previous policy of freezing an account upon verification of an account-holder’s death.
On Wednesday, two U.S. Senators introduced a proposal that would allow for Senate confirmation of Supreme Court nominees with a simple majority.
Citing statutory exemptions, the First Circuit Court of Appeal upheld the denial of a FOIA demand by an antiabortion group for documents relating to a federal grant to an agency of Planned Parenthood.
Juror selection began on Thursday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, accused of shooting “American Sniper” Chris Kyle.
In Germany, a former SS guard will stand trial as an accessory to the atrocities committed at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. The trial is scheduled to begin in April.
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has affirmed genocide convictions arising from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. This is the first final judgment for genocide handed down by the ICTY.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded a collective bargaining decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Wednesday, fourteen civil rights activists who staged sit-in protests at a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill, South Carolina, had their 1961 convictions for trespassing vacated. The motion to vacate the convictions was filed by retired South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Ernest A. Finney, Jr., who served as the attorney for nine of the protesters when they were arrested in 1961.
Also on Wednesday, France’s highest court, the Cour De Cassation, ruled that a French/Moroccan same-sex couple can marry legally. France has recognized same-sex marriage since 2013, although Morocco does not.
Senate confirmation hearings began this week for Lorretta Lynch, nominee for the position of U.S. Attorney General.
In copyright news, singer Sam Smith will be sharing writing credits (and royalties) for the song Stay With Me with Tom Petty and ELO’s Jeff Lynne, who co-wrote Petty’s 1989 hit I Won’t Back Down. For summaries of other famous copyright-in-music cases, check here.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week heard oral arguments in Rodriguez v. United States, a case that asks whether a police officer can extend a completed traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff, absent reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.
On Thursday, a federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona blocked a ban by that state on drivers’ licenses for immigrants who were brought to America illegally as children.
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the protocol for lethal injection drugs used in executions.