The Supreme Court holds that Yeshiva must recognize an LGBTQ group on campus, Senator Lindsey Graham introduces a federal ban on abortion, and more…
IN THE NEWS
- The U.S. Supreme Court denied Yeshiva University’s emergency request to block a New York state court order that demanded Yeshiva officially recognize YU Pride Alliance, the school’s LGBTQ student group. In a 5-4 vote, the Court temporarily reinstated the state court ruling and stated that it may revisit the case at a later time. In doing so, the Court reversed an order previously issued by Justice Sonia Sotomayor approving Yeshiva’s request. The state court had ruled that Yeshiva was an “educational corporation” and therefore unable to claim religious exemption. Yeshiva, a Jewish university, argued that granting official recognition to YU Pride Alliance would “force Yeshiva’s rabbis to yield to secular government on a religious decision” in violation of the First Amendment.
- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bill that would create a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape and incest, despite having stated that abortion should be regulated at the state level. If enacted, the Act would keep in place state laws with even stricter restrictions, but would override any law that permits abortion after 15 weeks. Several Republicans, including U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), opposed the bill, arguing that the issue should be dealt with at the state level. In response to Graham’s proposal, Senator Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y.) charged that Republican support of laws regulating abortion “has never been about states’ rights” but instead “has always been about making abortion illegal everywhere.”
- California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that requires social media companies that collect information about California residents to report how they moderate user behavior, including incidents of harassment, hate speech, and misinformation to the California Attorney General. Social media companies must also disclose the frequency of such events. Governor Newsom asserted that the bill “brings much-needed transparency and accountability” to users and aims to “protect Californians.” Opponents, however, argued that the transparency measures will stifle free speech, impose burdens on small businesses, and facilitate lawbreakers’ ability to evade detection.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved an Oregon Health Authority proposal to include community-based mobile crisis intervention as a service covered by Medicaid. The plan—the first of its kind in the United States—allows Oregon to provide stabilization services to individuals experiencing mental health or substance use crises and connect them with behavioral health specialists. These stabilization services aim to de-escalate crisis situations in order to reduce the possibility individuals may harm themselves and limit costly inpatient services.
- A federal judge blocked an Arizona law that would have restricted individuals from filming law enforcement activity. The law, which was set to take effect later this month, prohibited citizens and journalists from recording police within eight feet if an officer asked the individual to stop. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law, alleging that it embodied “blatant constitutional issues” by infringing on individuals’ First Amendment rights, including the freedom to record the public activities of police. The ACLU of Arizona celebrated the decision, stating that “recording law enforcement interactions is one of the best tools to hold police accountable.”
- The U.S. Department of the Interior proposed a rule to strengthen safety standards for offshore oil and gas drilling operations. The Obama Administration established the standards in response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, but the Trump Administration loosened them in 2019. The proposed rule would require operators to submit equipment failure information directly to the federal government rather than to third parties and begin failure investigations 90 rather than 120 days after discovery.
- President Joseph R. Biden signed an executive order launching a national biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative. The initiative directs federal agencies to identify critical research and development goals for the biotechnology industry, improve access to quality federal biotechnology data, and clarify regulations governing biotechnology. The Biden Administration explained that the initiative aims to decrease the United States’ historic reliance on foreign biomanufacturing.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposal to add the tricolored bat to the endangered species list under the Endangered Species Act. Tricolored bats are primarily threatened by a fungal disease that has killed 90 percent of affected bat colonies and is present in over half of the bat colonies across its 39-state habitat range. The Service explained that “bats are essential for healthy ecosystems and contribute at least $3 billion annually to the U.S. agriculture economy through pest control and pollination.”
WHAT WE’RE READING THIS WEEK
- In an article in the Yale Journal on Regulation, Alexandra B. Klass, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, argued that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency that regulates interstate energy infrastructure, should revise how it assesses approval of natural gas pipelines. Klass explained that federal and state policies that intend to curb carbon emissions and encourage renewable energy use threaten the need for new natural gas projects. Klass concluded that a failure to consider this threat is a failure of FERC’s legal obligation to approve only projects that serve “present or future public convenience and necessity.”
- In an article issued by the Center for American Progress, Frances Colón, Anne Christianson, and Cassidy Childs, members of the international climate team at American Progress, argued that the Inflation Reduction Act will help the United States reclaim its position as a global climate leader and encourage other countries to adopt meaningful climate policies. Colón, Christianson, and Childs explained that because the Act represents the largest climate policy change in U.S. history, it should restore the global community’s faith in the United States’ commitment to addressing the climate crisis. The authors asserted that when the global community believes that the United States takes climate change mitigation seriously, the United States can more effectively pressure other countries to meet ambitious climate goals.
- In a report published by the Urban Institute, Joseph Schilling, research associate at the Urban Institute, and several coauthors explored the challenges facing Philadelphia’s housing regulatory system. Schilling and his coauthors found that most of Philadelphia’s housing code violations are concentrated in Black and low income areas and that most of these violations are associated with chronic health concerns and safety hazards. The authors noted that many violations either go unreported due to fear of retaliation from landlords or unpunished because of the city’s limited capacity to enforce housing codes. To improve Philadelphia’s rental system, the coauthors recommended that Philadelphia expand its code violation database, develop a more robust rental inspection program, and focus litigation on landlords whose properties violate major health and safety codes.
- In an essay in The Regulatory Review, Erwin Chemerinsky, now a law professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley Law School, argued that the Supreme Court deserves some of the blame for police violence because it has limited opportunities for citizens to sue police over their actions. Specifically, Chemerinsky asserted that the Supreme Court has upheld qualified immunity—which shields officers from liability unless they violate clearly established law—and absolute immunity—which protects officers from liability in all scenarios. Chemerinsky added that the Court has also limited lawsuits against local governments that employ police officers, leaving victims of police misconduct with no legal remedy.