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Total Articles: 10

The Meaning Behind Pride Month

Pride—It’s a simple word that, for some, denotes arrogance, hubris, narcissism, or a foolishly and irrationally distorted sense of one’s personal value, importance, or achievement. However, there is a much more insightful, thoughtful, and powerful meaning behind the word that has been the impetus for worldwide commemoration. Pride can mean “the consciousness of one’s own dignity” and “a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”

"Here We Go Again": Transgender Bathroom Dispute Headed Back to the Fourth Circuit

Executive Summary: The protracted case of Gavin Grimm is set to be heard once again by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Grimm, a transgender male, was denied use of the boys’ bathroom while a high school student in Gloucester County, Virginia. The 2015 decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissing Grimm’s lawsuit was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court before being remanded back to the District Court in early 2017. On May 22, 2018, District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen denied Gloucester County’s renewed motion to dismiss Grimm’s case. Joining a long list of other courts, Judge Allen held that discrimination based on gender identity falls within the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins gender stereotyping theory and is, therefore, a per se violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, as well as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On June 5, 2018, Judge Allen granted Gloucester County’s motion seeking immediate review by the Fourth Circuit. Grimm responded via Facebook, “[h]ere we go again.” The Fourth Circuit is the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over the federal district courts in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Wedding Cake Baker in Gay Rights Case Based on Civil Rights Commission's Impermissible "Hostility"

Executive Summary: On June 4, 2018, the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling, found in favor of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakes, who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He cited religious beliefs condemning gay marriage as his reasoning. The LGBTQ community had hoped this long-awaited decision would expand their rights. However, the Supreme Court reversed the holdings of the lower courts, finding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed impermissible “hostility” towards Phillips, violating his rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Supreme Court Rules Business Owner Did Not Discriminate in Gay Rights Case

A Colorado bakery owner who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs should not have been found to have violated the state's anti-discrimination law, the Supreme Court held. In a 7-2 ruling, the justices found that a Colorado agency was neither tolerant nor respectful of the baker's sincere religious beliefs, and violated his First Amendment free exercise of religion rights.

Supreme Court Rules for Baker in Same-Sex Wedding Cake Case, But Leaves Door Open for Future Challenges

The United States Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who made news when he refused to bake a custom cake for a same-sex couple because he believed doing so would violate his religious beliefs. This was one of the most watched and highly anticipated decisions to come from the court this term and was a relatively narrow decision — not in the number of justices agreeing to overturn the lower court’s decision, but in the majority’s reasoning, which hinged on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s violation of Phillips’ rights under Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, rather than the underlying issue of the couple’s rights to equal service.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Baker Who Refused to Create Wedding Cake for a Same-Sex Marriage, but Does Not Open the Door for Discrimination Based on Religious Belief

In a limited opinion issued yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. However, the Court’s decision in the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm., largely punted on the broader question of under what circumstances, if any, a business may refuse to provide services to or employ individuals based on a sincerely-held religious belief that potentially conflicts with anti-discrimination law, suggesting such questions need to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

The Supreme Court’s Ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop: A Masterpiece on Dodging Key Constitutional Issues

On June 4, 2018, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. and Jack C. Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In a 7-2 opinion authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s actions violated a shop owner's right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs.

Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Wedding Cake Decision Does Not Grant Right To Discriminate

In a 7-to-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that a baker’s Free Exercise Clause rights under the Constitution were not properly considered by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it held that he was legally required to bake and sell a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. However, today’s much anticipated decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission does not create any sort of safe harbor for businesses defending against bias claims. Instead, this narrow decision is more of a rebuke to the state commission that expressed impermissible hostility toward the baker’s religious beliefs when ruling on his case, requiring the commission to reconsider its earlier action.

Federal Court Rules In Favor Of Transgender Teen In Bathroom Case

A federal court in Virginia ruled in favor a transgender teenager who wanted to use the boys’ bathroom at his former school, finding that the local school district violated his constitutional rights when it prescribed which bathroom he should use. On May 22, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia sided with a growing number of courts when it concluded that sex discrimination can encompass a claim for discrimination on the basis of one’s gender identity—in this case, under Title IX and the United States Constitution.

A Changing Pay Equity Landscape

Sam Lillard was recently published in the Columbus Bar Association’s Legal Connections on “A Changing Pay Equity Landscape.” This article reviews the federal and state laws that prohibit pay discrepancies based on sex.