This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: February 26

Welcome to This Week in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

This week, a federal appeals court held that sexual orientation is covered by Title VII, the FCC published its rules repealing net neutrality, and civil libertarians argue that mass shootings are the price to pay for gun freedoms.

 

Education

Texas School Threatens to Suspend Any Students Who Leave Class to Protest: A school district outside of Houston has threatened students planning to engage in walkouts or other protests that disrupt the school day with a three-day suspension. (TIME)

Florida Lawmakers Advance Bill Requiring Schools to Display ‘In God We Trust’: The bill’s sponsor stated, “[i]t is not a secret that we have some gun issues that need to be addressed, but the real thing that needs to be addressed are issues of the heart.” (NPR)

Department of Education Publishes School Civil Rights Complaints: Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education published a database of all of the outstanding civil rights complaints it is investigating, allowing parents, advocates, and reporters to see a school or school district’s record of complaints of race, sex, or ability discrimination. (US Dept. Ed., The Salt Law Tribune)

 

Immigration

Supreme Court declines to enter controversy over ‘dreamers,’ rejects Trump administration’s request to review lower court rulings: The move leaves in place preliminary injunctions from multiple district courts halting the government’s attempts to end the program. (Washington Post)

Young Immigrants Are Being Held Illegally, Lawsuit Claims: The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a class action lawsuit that could represent up to 40 young adult migrants who are being held indefinitely by the federal government. A common theme between these unaccompanied minors and young immigrants is that the government has a range of reasons for suspecting them of gang activity, in particular with MS-13. The NYCLU’s present client is a 17-year-old who has been held since July, for purportedly displaying gang signs and wearing clothing that reflected gang membership. (NY Times)

 

Net Neutrality

FCC Takes Another Step Toward Repeal of Net Neutrality: The FCC formally published its new rules on Thursday, officially retracting the agency’s previous policy of net neutrality. At least twenty states’ attorneys general have taken steps to challenge the new rules in court. (NPR)

AT&T expands ‘sponsored data’ to prepaid plans: AT&T’s sponsored data program allows certain content providers to pay for users to be able to use their services without it counting toward the customer’s data limit. This sponsored data is reminiscent of the “internet fast lanes” many net neutrality activists have warned about. (The Verge)

 

Privacy

Supreme Court to hear high-stakes Microsoft case testing email privacy: The Court will hear arguments on Tuesday about whether Microsoft has to turn over subpoenaed copies of emails that were stored on a server outside the U.S. (CNN)

 

Civil Rights Enforcement

Trump’s Justice Department isn’t enforcing civil rights: VICE News summarized an investigation it had conducted on the work of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, highlighting the 17-year low of cases opened or settled. (VICE News)

 

LGBT Rights

A Federal Court Just Ruled for Gay Rights in a Major Discrimination Case: The Second Circuit held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation—disagreeing with the Justice Department. (BuzzFeed News)

 

Consumer Debt

Prosecutors and Judges Have Brought Back Debtors’ Prisons: A new report from the ACLU finds that thousands of Americans are jailed each year over debt collection. (The Nation, ACLU)

 

The Second Amendment

Is the Second Amendment Worth Dying For?: John Davidson of the Federalist proposed that “a certain baseline vulnerability to mass shootings is part of the price of the American idea [of gun ownership]” and boiling the issue of gun regulation down to a trade-off between “keeping U.S. school children safe” and a right to revolution that “undergirds our entire political system.” (The Week, The Federalist)

 

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Madelyn is a second year law student at Harvard Law School. She is interested in civil rights, economic justice, and community lawyering.

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