Tampa Bay quarterback says sorry to female driver in statementRyan Fitzpatrick expected to step in for Bucs at start of seasonTampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for three games for a violation of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. The decision came on Thursday at the conclusion of a league investigation into an alleged incident with an Uber driver in 2016.The NFL “concluded that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.” Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/jun/28/jameis-winston-nfl-ban-uber-driver-groping-allegations-nfl

Suit is part of larger effort to fight practices that organization argues are attempts to suppress minority votingThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued the state of Connecticut on Thursday, over how it counts its prisoners when crafting legislative districts. The NAACP lawsuit argues that urban districts are weakened while rural districts with fewer minorities benefit unfairly, in a practice critics call “partisan gerrymandering”. The civil rights organization hopes the case can become a template for suits it may file in other states where inmates are included in the population counts of areas where they are imprisoned, rather than their home districts. Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/28/naacp-sues-connecticut-prison-gerrymandering

The campaign against the president’s zealots will be a major test of strength for civil rights and abortion rights groups. A new Democratic lion is neededRepublican president who is eager to build a clear, conservative majority on the United States supreme court – and too sure of his political ground – overreaches. He picks a rightwing zealot for the open seat created by the retirement of a justice. At stake in the subsequent political battle over his nomination is the constitutional right of American women to have an abortion. Related: Anthony Kennedy: US supreme court justice to retire Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/28/us-supreme-court-trump-justice-kennedy-rightwing-nomination-women

Recent changes to Senate rules mean that a simple majority vote is required for a nominee to advance – Democrats have 49 of 100 seatsFacing a battle over the supreme court seat vacated by Anthony Kennedy, Senate Democrats continued on Thursday to look for ways to fight. They found few options. Related: ‘Democracy is at stake’: Anthony Kennedy’s exit causes a political earthquake Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2018/jun/28/supreme-court-replacement-democrats-stop-block-options-limited

President’s remarks were confirmed by European officials, adding to jitters among allies about what will happen at July Nato summitDonald Trump trashed Nato, saying it was “as bad as Nafta”, the North American free trade agreement the US president openly despises, European officials have confirmed. Related: Trump is hellbent on destroying the Nato alliance | Martin Kettle Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/28/trump-nato-latest-news-as-bad-as-nafta-g7-summit

The former Everton and Manchester United striker is joining DC United with Everton’s blessing and encouragementWayne Rooney, without the fanfare that greeted his arrival as the most gifted English player in a generation or the acrimony of his first Everton exit, has brought his 16-year Premier League career to a close. Even so, and even with all eyes on Gareth Southgate’s new breed in Russia, it is a career that does not slip away unheralded.Rooney, with Everton’s blessing and encouragement, flew on Thursday to Washington to finalise a three-and-a-half-year contract with DC United. The deal will be formally completed when the MLS transfer window opens on 10 July – Everton will not receive a fee – and the 32-year-old is expected to make his debut for the Eastern Conference’s bottom club when they open their £300m Audi Field stadium against Vancouver Whitecaps four days later. His basic wage will be around £75,000 a week, half the amount he received at Everton, albeit with greater commercial opportunities to soften the blow. It is a decision reached with careful consideration and some reluctance. Continue reading…

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2018/jun/28/wayne-rooney-england-great-dc-united-everton-manchester-united-england

Yesterday a petition for certiorari (full text) was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in American Legion v. American Humanist Association. In the case, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision held that a 40-foot tall Latin Cross on government property created as a World War I Veterans’ Memorial (Bladensburg Cross) violates the Establishment Clause.  (See prior posting.) En banc review was denied by a vote of 8-6. (See prior posting).  First Liberty Institute issued a press release announcing the filing of the cert. petition.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/06/cert-filed-in-bladensburg-cross.html

Yesterday a group of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students filed suit in an Indiana federal district court against the University and the Trump Administration challenging a settlement entered last year with the University in its lawsuit over the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.  The complaint (full text) in Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (ND IN, filed 6/26/2018), contends that the settlement which exempts Notre Dame from furnishing contraceptive coverage to its students and employees where doing so would violate the University’s religious tenets was entered in violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.  The settlement reflects the exemptions for religious non-profits which the Trump Administration adopted, but whose application has been enjoined nationwide by two other federal district courts.  The complaint also challenges the constitutionality of those now-enjoined rules.According to the complaint, Notre Dame will provide some contraceptive coverage, but will require co-pays, and will refuse to cover certain IUDs and emergency contraceptives. Presumably this is an attempt to withdraw coverage of contraceptives that may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.  Plaintiffs in the case are represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Center for Reproductive Rights and their co-counsel. NWLC issued a press release announcing the lawsuit.

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/06/notre-dame-and-hhs-sued-over-settlement.html

This morning in Trump v. Hawaii, (US Sup. Ct., June 26, 2018), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, rejecting Establishment Clause challenges to the ban. Chief Justice Roberts’ majority opinion, joined by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, said in part:The case before us differs in numerous respects from the conventional Establishment Clause claim. Unlike the typical suit involving religious displays or school prayer, plaintiffs seek to invalidate a national security directive regulating the entry of aliens abroad. Their claim accordingly raises a number of delicate issues regarding the scope of the constitutional right and the manner of proof. The Proclamation, moreover, is facially neutral toward religion. Plaintiffs therefore ask the Court to probe the sincerity of the stated justifications for the policy by reference to extrinsic statements—many of which were made before the President took the oath of office. These various aspects of plaintiffs’ challenge inform our standard of review….Nonetheless, although foreign nationals seeking admission have no constitutional right to entry, this Court has engaged in a circumscribed judicial inquiry when the denial of a visa allegedly burdens the constitutional rights of a U. S. citizen….For our purposes today we assume that we may look behind the face of the Proclamation to the extent of applying rational basis review…. As a result, we may consider plaintiffs’ extrinsic evidence, but will uphold the policy so long as it can reasonably be understood to result from a justification independent of unconstitutional grounds….The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion. Plaintiffs and the dissent nonetheless emphasize that five of the seven nations currently included in the Proclamation have Muslim-majority populations. Yet that fact alone does not support an inference of religious hostility, given that the policy covers just 8% of the world’s Muslim population and is limited to countries that were previously designated by Congress or prior administrations as posing national security risks.The majority also used its opinion to formally reject the long-discredited Korematsu case that in 1944 upheld the internment of Japanese Americans.Justices Kennedy and Thomas each filed a separate concurring opinion. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion joined by Justice Kagan. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justice Ginsburg, saying in part:The United States of America is a Nation built upon the promise of religious liberty. Our Founders honored that core promise by embedding the principle of religious neutrality in the First Amendment. The Court’s decision today fails to safeguard that fundamental principle. It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” because the policy now masquerades behind a façade of national-security concerns. But this repackaging does little to cleanse Presidential Proclamation No. 9645 of the appearance of discrimination that the President’s words have created. Based on the evidence in the record, a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus. That alone suffices to show that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim. The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens. Because that troubling result runs contrary to the Constitution and our precedent, I dissent. 

Source: http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2018/06/trumps-travel-ban-upheld-by-supreme.html

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning, in a victory for pro-life pregnancy centers, decided National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, (US Sup. Ct., June 26, 2018).  At issue was California’s FACT Act which requires licensed pregnancy counseling clinics to post and distribute a notice on the existence of publicly-funded family planning services, including contraception and abortion.  Unlicensed clinics must disseminate a notice that they and their personnel are unlicensed.  Justice Thomas, writing for the majority (Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, Gorsuch) held that these disclosure requirements likely violate 1st Amendment free speech rights of the clinics. The Court concluded that the disclosures required of licensed clinics are content-based regulations:… licensed clinics must provide a government-drafted script about the availability of state-sponsored services, as well as contact information for how to obtain them. One of those services is abortion—the very practice that petitioners are devoted to opposing. By requiring petitioners to inform women how they can obtain state-subsidized abortions—at the same time petitioners try to dissuade women from choosing that option— the licensed notice plainly “alters the content” of petitioners’ speech.The majority then went on to largely reject the 9th Circuit’s conclusion that  strict scrutiny does not apply because the regulation deals with