FCC Approves Net Neutrality

The FCC approved net neutrality in a 3-2 vote on Thursday. Under net neutrality, the FCC will treat Internet service provides as public utilities, giving them greater power to regulate. Supporters of net neutrality, such as the ACLU, believe this is a historic win for online free speech and will prevent Internet service providers from acting as a gatekeeper over the content of the Internet.


Recreational Marijuana Laws Take Effect 

The voter approved initiatives for the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, took effect this week in Washington D.C. and Alaska. D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser, went through with implementing the policy despite threats from congressional Republicans. Opponents in congress stated there would be “very serious consequences” if the mayor went through with the initiative, and stated it was in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, which carries a penalty of up to two-years in prison and loss of job.


Holder Wants to Adjust Threshold for Civil Rights Charges

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to leave office in the next few weeks once the Senate confirms Loretta Lynch. Before he leaves, there is still one issue he wants to address. Holder believes there is a need to adjust the high standard of proof required before federal involvement is appropriate in civil rights violations. In an interview with Politico, Holder said the federal government should be more involved to “reassure the American people that decisions are made by people who are really disinterested.” Holder declined to expand on what these adjustments would look like. The statements by Holder came shortly after the DOJ concluded there was not enough evidence to bring civil rights charges in the Trayvon Martin case.


News From SCOTUS

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments today for Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The Republican controlled state legislature is challenging the constitutionality of having a  independent commission drawing up congressional districts. Because this was a result of voter referendum, the State Legislature is arguing the election clause in the Constitution gives the legislature, not voters, the power to set the “times, places and manner” of congressional elections. Proponents of the commission argue it creates more competitive races, and that gerrymandering leads to more extreme candidates and a more polarized and dysfunctional government. This case has the potential to not only effect other states with similar commissions, but also other voting laws that were passed through ballot initiatives such as voter identification and regulating the primaries


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in EEOC v Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. This case arose after Abercrombie refused to hire a young Muslim woman who was wore a hijab during her interview, because employees are not allowed to wear “hats” at work. The narrow question the court will answer is will an employer be liable under Title VII only if the employer has actual knowledge resulting from explicit notice from an employee, that the employee needs a religious accommodation.