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Tag Archives: Civil Rights

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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Civil Rights – Qualified Immunity – Unavailable – Police Officer – Fleeing Suspect – Failure to Pay Child Support – Grabbing Glock Instead of Taser (access required)

Henry v. Purnell A deputy who mistook his pistol for a Taser can be sued for shooting an unarmed, fleeing suspect; on rehearing, the en banc 4th Circuit says a jury could find that the deputy’s mistake was “objectively unreasonable” because he should have realized he had grabbed a .40 caliber Glock handgun and there was no threat from the man he was chasing for failure to pay child support.

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Elections – Civil Rights – Independent Candidate — Petition Signatures – Residency Requirement (access required)

Lux v. Judd A former independent candidate for Congress wins remand of his challenge to a Virginia statutory requirement that petition signatures in support of his candidacy be witnessed by a resident of the Congressional district; the 4th Circuit says the limited rationale underlying the case relied on by the lower court has been superseded by later Supreme Court cases.

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Labor & Employment – Civil Rights – Religious Discrimination – Saturday Sabbath – Reasonable Accommodation (access required)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Thompson Contracting, Grading, Paving & Utilities, Inc. The defendant-employer had two policies that could accommodate an employee’s religious need not to work on his Sabbath (Saturday): shift swapping and paid personal leave. The employee never tried to swap shifts with his co-workers. Although paid personal leave was not yet available to the probationary employee, this does not negate the reasonableness of the policy. The employer met its Title VII obligation to reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious practices. The employer’s motion for summary judgment is granted.

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