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Civil Rights

Labor & Employment – Civil Rights — Race Discrimination Claim – Federal Jurisdiction – State Court — Removal (access required)

Bullock v. Napolitano The 4th Circuit upholds dismissal of this Title VII race discrimination suit filed by an African-American who was dismissed from the federal air marshal training program; the U.S. did not consent to be sued in North Carolina state court and removal of the suit to federal court, under the doctrine of derivative jurisdiction, did not cure that jurisdictional defect.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional — Prior Military Detention – ‘Enemy Combatant’ — No Bivens-Type Claim (access required)

Lebron v. Rumsfeld Convicted terrorist Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, and his mother, may not sue for legal and equitable relief based on Padilla’s prior military detention as an “enemy combatant”; the 4th Circuit upholds the district court decision refusing plaintiffs’ request for a declaration that defendant government officials’ policies were unconstitutional, an order enjoining Padilla’s future designation as an enemy combatant and nominal damages of one dollar from each defendant.

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Civil Rights – Excessive Force – Taser – Search Warrant Execution – Immunity – Municipality (access required)

Fordham v. Greenville Police Officer Doe Where plaintiff refused to comply with an officer’s instructions to get on the ground, the defendant police officer did not violate a clearly established constitutional right when he tasered plaintiff once. Defendants’ motion to dismiss is granted. Greenville police executed a search warrant of plaintiff’s home. Plaintiff’s friend, Monte Corey, answered the door. When he saw the police, Corey tried to keep the police out.

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Labor & Employment – Civil Rights – Discrimination – Exempt Religious Organization — Religious Harassment – Brethren Dress Code (access required)

Kennedy v. St. Joseph’s Ministries Inc. A Catholic nursing-care facility is an exempt religious organization under Title VII. It cannot be sued by a geriatric nursing assistant who alleged religious harassment after she refused to abandon her Church of the Brethren dress code that called for long skirts and hair covering.

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Civil Rights – PPACA – Individual Mandate — State Challenge – No Standing (access required)

Commonwealth v. Sebelius The Commonwealth of Virginia does not have standing to challenge the “individual mandate” to maintain health insurance, a provision of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and a Virginia statute that purports to limit enforcement of the federal statute does not confer standing; the 4th Circuit vacates the district court decision that found standing and struck the individual mandate as unconstitutional.

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Civil Rights – PPACA – Individual Mandate – University Challenge – Civil Practice – Federal Jurisdiction – Anti-Injunction Act (access required)

Liberty University Inc. v. Geithner The 4th Circuit has no jurisdiction to hear Liberty University’s constitutional challenge to the “individual mandate” of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as the federal Anti-Injunction Act strips the federal court of jurisdiction; the 4th Circuit vacates the district court decision upholding the individual mandate and remands the case for dismissal.

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Civil Rights – Homeless People – Service Center Relocation (access required)

ASWAN v. Commonwealth of Virginia The 4th Circuit upholds dismissal of a lawsuit filed by an unincorporated association of homeless people and their advocates who allege defendants, including Virginia Commonwealth University and the city of Richmond, violated 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and Sec. 1985(3), and other civil rights statutes, when defendants moved a service center for homeless persons from the downtown Richmond area.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Establishment Clause – County Commissioners – Neutral Policy – Sectarian Prayers (access required)

Joyner v. Forsyth County, N.C. When a religious leader’s invocation at a county board of commissioners’ meeting referred to Jesus Christ and other tenets of the Christian faith, that prayer typified the board’s allowance of sectarian opening prayers at its meetings, and the 4th Circuit affirms a district court decision that the board’s legislative prayer policy violates the Establishment Clause.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Free Speech – High School Student — MySpace Page — Discipline (access required)

Kowalski v. Berkeley County Schools A high school could suspend a student for five days for using a MySpace page to target another student with ugly accusations about herpes, on the ground that the out-of-school speech caused an in-school disruption; the 4th Circuit upholds a district court decision that the discipline did not violate the student’s First Amendment free speech rights.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Fourth Amendment – Qualified Immunity – Strip Search – After Ion Scan  (access required)

Braun v. Maynard Maryland prison officials who used ion scanning to screen employees and performed vehicle searches and strip searches of those who tested positive for drug residue have qualified immunity from the employees’ suit alleging violation of their Fourth Amendment rights; the 4th Circuit says no clearly established federal law put defendant officers on notice the scan results here could not support a strip search.

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