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Supreme Court Revives Pregnant Employee’s Discrimination Suit

The Supreme Court issued an opinion  in Young v. United Parcel Service and vacated a Fourth Circuit decision  while remanding the case back to the lower court to decide in light of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  The case involves a UPS driver who claimed the company failed to accommodate her pregnancy.   Justice Stephen Breyer’s decision read, in part, “In our view, the Act required courts to consider the extent to which an employer’s policy treats pregnant workers less favorably than it treats nonpregnant workers similar in their ability or inability to work.  And here—as in all cases in which an individual plaintiff seeks to show disparate treatment through indirect evidence—it requires courts to consider any legitimate, nondiscriminatory, nonpretextual justification for these differences in treatment.”  In his dissent, Justice Scalia wrote, “Faced with two conceivable readings of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the court chooses neither.  It crafts instead a new law that is splendidly unconnected with the text and even the legislative history of the act”.  Read articles in the New York Times and Bloomberg.

Attorney General Seeks to Block Voter Initiative

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is seeking a court order to keep her from having to provide an official title and summary for what she called a “patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible” proposed ballot measure that would authorize killing gays and lesbians in California.  See her entire statement posted at the California Attorney General’s website.   Read the articles in the New York Times with comments by Professor Floyd Feeney and the San Francisco Chronicle with comments by Associate Dean Vik Amar.

Free Speech and License Plates

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments  in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., where they will decide if Texas engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by rejecting the license-plate design proposed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The case marks the first time the justices will consider the First Amendment implications of the specialty license plate program and whether the speech depicted on the plates is government speech or the speech of the driver.  See the argument analysis at SCOTUSblog.  Read articles in the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Chinese-American Lawyer Posthumously Admitted to State Bar

The California Supreme Court granted posthumous admission to the California State Bar to Hong Yen Chang, a lawyer who graduated from Columbia Law School and was licensed to practice in New York, but was denied admission to the California Bar in 1890 by laws that prohibited noncitizens from practicing law in this state.  Professor Gabriel Chin and members of U.C. Davis APALSA have worked since 2011 to get recognition for Hong Yen Chang and his posthumous admission to the State Bar. In granting the petition, the Court wrote, “Chang’s descendants and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association at the University of California, Davis School of Law have sought to right this wrong.  Even if we cannot undo history, we can acknowledge it and, in so doing, accord a full measure of recognition to Chang’s pathbreaking efforts to become the first lawyer of Chinese descent in the United States”.   Read articles in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and ABA Journal.  Listen to the story at NPR.