Patrick Lorio, CLS ’18

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in Gloucester v. G.G., a case determining whether Title IX gives transgender students the right to use school restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The Trump Administration, however, recently rescinded an Obama administration directive that told public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. In response, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded Gloucester to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to be re-argued now that the Obama-era directive is no longer in place. Although the Fourth Circuit had originally decided the case in light of the directive, the Fourth Circuit could still find that either Title IX itself—rather than just the administration’s interpretation of it—or the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment protects transgender students’ rights. [SCOTUS Blog, NY Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone]

After the chaos following the  implementation of a travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries, which resulted in a nationwide injunction, the Trump Administration announced a new travel ban on March 6. The new ban excludes Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempts permanent legal residents, and removes priority entry for Christian refugees, an alleged religious test. The new ban, however, will soon have its day in federal court as well. Hawaii became the first state to challenge the ban, arguing that it still amounts to a “Muslim ban” that violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. [CNN, NY Times, Washington Post]

On March 6, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, which concerned a challenge to Colorado’s “no impeachment” rule. The rule, which is similar to those in many other state and federal jurisdictions, prevents jurors from testifying about statements made during jury deliberations. The convicted defendant sought to have a new trial because of alleged racist comments by two jurors during deliberations; the “no impeachment” rule, however, provided a bar to a new trial. Acknowledging that “no impeachment” helps ensure robust and frank discussion among jurors, the Supreme Court held that the rule cannot be invoked when jurors are claimed to have made remarks based on racial stereotypes. Justice Kennedy noted, “Racial bias implicates unique historical, constitutional and institutional concerns,” justifying the exception to an otherwise sound rule. [SCOTUS Blog, NY Times]