Weekly Round-Up #9: Changing Rules and a New Justice

With a year-long vacancy on the Supreme Court finally filled through a stunning display of “I’m not listening,” theft, obstruction, and rules changes it sure is an interesting time to be studying the Court. Also, with an executive branch that has only a passing understanding or appreciation of the US Constitution, it is an interesting time to be studying civil liberties in the United States. Many of these current developments come up in the students’ posts for this week.

Elise, Kaitlyn, and Paul all wrote posts about the new Supreme Court justice. Elise take a more general perspective, while Kaitlyn and Paul look specifically at the implications for religious rights of the newly sworn-in justice. Elise writes about the now-fully-staffed Supreme Court. With the confirmation and swearing in of Garland Gorsuch, the Court is back to nine. Elise briefly discusses the process by which Garland Gorsuch ended up on the Court. She also provides a look forward towards what we might expect with the new justice on the Court.

Kaitlyn also talks about Garland’s Gorsuch’s arrival at the Supreme Court. Kaitlyn puts this in terms of the theme of her blog: religious liberties. Kaitlyn discusses what Garland’s Gorsuch’s being on the court means for religious liberty. Paul, who also has been blogging about religion and the law, adds to the posts about Garland Gorsuch, also looking at religious liberties. Paul looks at how the new justice compares to his predecessor (Scalia), as well as his stances on religious freedom issues. Included in this analysis is a discussion of how Gorsuch previously ruled on Hobby Lobby while on the 10th Circuit, a case Paul has previously addressed in a different post.

Like Paul, Erin and Dan connect their new posts to previous posts they have written. Erin’s post this week picks up where she left off her previous post on privacy in a digital age. In this post Erin looks at the recent efforts to change rules to allow internet service providers to sell customer data. She explains how the bill reverses Obama-era policies, and what it means for all of us if Trump signs it. Dan decides to mix things up a bit in his post this week, and instead of criticizing the ban focuses on the arguments in favor of it. He looks at the arguments being used by the states that support the ban, as well as the president.

Adrian writes about recent developments at Gordon College pertaining to the College’s decision not to grant promotion to Professor DeWeese-Boyd, over the recommendation for promotion from the College’s faculty senate. It appears that the decision was made, at least in part, over DeWeese-Boyd’s criticism of Gordon College’s policy against homosexuality. Adrian explains the policy, what happened, and the response from faculty senate to the College’s decision. He also offers a thoughtful, balanced analysis of the law regarding these actions and questions of whether any illegal discrimination has occurred.

Efrain discusses State v. Loomis (2016), as Wisconsin state-level case questioning the use of COMPAS assessments in determining sentencing. As Efrain explains, COMPAS uses trade secrets to calculate recidivism rates that are used to influence sentences. However, as Efrain explains and as Loomis argued, the trade-secret nature of these assessments potentially violate due process. Read Efrain’s post for a more in-depth explanation and discussion of this topic.

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