U.S. Solicitor General disputes that gender identity is protected by the Civil Rights Act, USDA and FDA hold joint summit on cell-cultured meats, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- In a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco stated that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit “misread the statute” and Supreme Court precedent in deciding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity.” The Supreme Court will now decide whether to review the case, where funeral home supervisors fired an employee after she had informed them of her intent to transition from male to female. This week the Trump Administration also stoked controversy by suggesting it may restrict the legal definition of sex to a person’s biological sex at birth.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) held a two-day joint summit on the regulation of cell-cultured meats, which are developed in laboratories from animal cells. The agencies heard public comments by representatives of traditional meat producers and cell-culture startups, who raised several issues including disclosure of production methods to consumers, labeling, and whether FDA and USDA would have joint regulatory authority.
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg froze the deposition of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in litigation over the legality of the U.S. Census Bureau’s request to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Dissenting in part, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that he would have frozen all depositions in the litigation. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Judge Jesse Furman of theU.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York reportedly rejected a request by the U.S. Department of Justice to delay trial in the litigation.
- The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia banned Georgia election officials from throwing out absentee ballots for an issue with signatures unless they give voters a chance to fix the issue. Under Georgia election law, election officials were able reject voters’ absentee ballots if their signatures did not match those on their voter identification. The ACLU of Georgia, which had sued over the law, called the district court’s ruling “a victory for democracy.”
- New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) sued Exxon Mobil for allegedly misleading investors about the impact of climate change regulation on its financial health. Underwood claimed that actors at the “highest levels of the company,” including former Exxon Chairman Rex Tillerson, were aware of the alleged fraud. “Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business,” Underwood said.
- President Donald J. Trump nominated Aurelia Skipwith to be the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Skipwith currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks in the U.S. Department of the Interior and has prior work experience with agricultural giant Monsanto. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke applauded the nomination, calling Skipwith a “scientist and passionate conservationist.”
- In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, the American Automobile Association (AAA) supported a bipartisan Ohio state bill extending the length of learner’s permits to a year and requiring newly licensed teens to drive with an adult after 10:00 p.m. The bill was sponsored by state representatives Gary Sherer (R) and Michael Sheehy (D) and has already passed the Transportation and Public Safety Committee. AAA called for Ohio’s House of Representatives and Senate to pass the bill before the end of the year.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to institute a carbon tax on provinces and territories that have not created such a tax already. Trudeau reportedly stated that the government would “help Canadians adjust to this new reality” by sending rebates to families to offset the costs of the new tax. The Conservative Party of Canada opposed the tax, describing it as “an election gimmick” that “will neither help the environment nor save Canadians any money.”
- Japan’s Financial Services Agency granted self-regulatory status to the cryptocurrency industry, certifying the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) as the industry’s self-regulatory body. The certification was effective immediately and JVCEA stated it has “officially launched all work.” JVCEA currently consists of 16 members and has published comprehensive rules and guidelines for the cryptocurrency industry.
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- Regulation of voter fraud “has always been cover for disenfranchisement,” wrote Vann Newkirk in an article for The Atlantic. Newkirk argued that the voter roll purges ahead of the Georgia gubernatorial election led by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also running for governor of Georgia, are the “vanguard of a new norm” of disproportionate disenfranchisement of minorities. This “new norm” followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision that weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Newkirk.
- Tulishree Pradhan of India’s KIIT School of Law argued in a recent paper that media regulations in the United Kingdom should pursue concrete objectives, rather than simply react to changing market conditions and new technology. Pradhan cited “effective communication, diversity, economy and public service” as values that media regulations should support, and he called for a stewardship model of media regulation that would protect the interests of “all present and future generations of citizens.”
- In a recent article, Jameson Taylor of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy argued for state regulations that would allow small-scale poultry producers—farmers producing fewer than 20,000 birds per year—to sell to grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, schools, and hospitals. These producers are currently only permitted to sell directly to consumers, which Taylor described as “severely restricting” the viability of small-scale farms and giving “more limited access to diverse food options” for consumers.