In Lewis v. City of Chicago, the justices will consider whether a group of African-American applicants to be firefighters properly brought a discrimination claim against Chicago officials. The group of potential firefighters argued that Chicago officials employed a test in a way that negatively impacted black applicants. A lower federal court agreed that the city's use of the test did discriminate against black applicants, but that decision was later overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The Seventh Circuit concluded that the plaintiffs had not lodged their complaint under federal law in a timely manner. The New York Times, in an editorial today, noted that the case is similar to one the high court ruled on involving Lilly Ledbetter's lawsuit against Goodyear Tire Company, which also centered on a claim brought pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
"The language of Title VII clearly says that an unlawful employment practice occurs every time an employer uses a process that has a racially discriminatory impact - not when the process is first announced," The Times' editorial states. "Every time the city used its flawed procedure it violated Title VII, resetting the time limit." The Times editorial board urged the justices to "get it right this time around, and rule that the would-be firefighters complained in time."
Later this week the high court will consider Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, which pits the First Amendment rights of a Los-Angeles based nonprofit against the federal government's "material support" law, which is used to counter terrorism. The Los Angeles nonprofit argues that it has been trying to help Turkey's Kurdish population to engage in peaceful protests, but threat of prosecution under the material support law has barred it from doing so. The material support law bans assistance to international groups that the State Department has designated as terrorist organizations. An attorney for the Humanitarian Law Project, David Cole, has said the material support law is "so sweeping that it treats human rights activists as criminal terrorists."
For more on the material support law and its impact on humanitarian assistance, see an ACS Issue Brief by Ahilan T. Arulanantham.
The justices today in Thaler v. Haynes reversed a lower court decision granting a new trial to a man convicted of a killing in Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had granted the new trial, because a prospective juror was improperly excluded because of race, The Associated Press reports. In Wilkins v. Gaddy, the high court reversed a lower federal court's dismissal of lawsuit alleging excessive force by the police. Both cases were decided without a full briefing or oral argument. SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston examines the high court's "increased use" of summary disposition rulings.