Keen News Service
SUPREME CONCERN FOR SLIPPERY SLOPES: Observers of Tuesday’s U.S. Supreme Court arguments over giving religious exemptions from the Affordable Care Act to for-profit corporations all agreed the decisions will likely come down to how Justice Anthony Kennedy votes. Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood v. HHS are lawsuits brought by the owners of commercial enterprises (not religious institutions) who object to the ACA’s requirement that employer health plans cover contraception. Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jenny Pizer said she fears the majority of the court may well require that at least some closely held companies be able to gain exemptions by claiming religious beliefs. Read full story.
SUPREME COURT HEARING PROTEST CASE: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in a case deciding whether Secret Service agents guarding the president have immunity from a lawsuit when they violate the First Amendment rights of protesters based on their political views. The case, Wood v. Moss, sprang out of protests for and against then President George W. Bush in Oregon in 2004, while he was campaigning for re-election. Secret Service agents ordered local police to drive anti-Bush protesters farther away from where Bush was arriving.
VALERIE JARRETT VISITS L.A. CENTER: Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett toured the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center Monday. Jarrett met with Lorri Jean, head of the Center, toured the largest LGBT community and health center in the world, and met with a number of homeless youth who are residing in the Center’s Transitional Living Program.
NEW WHITE HOUSE HIV DIRECTOR: The White House announced Monday that President Obama has appointed a new director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. Douglas Brooks was originally appointed as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He comes to the current position from the Massachusetts-based Justice Resource Institute, which focuses on social justice in health services and education. He replaces Grant Colfax, who announced in January that he was leaving to lead the HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis program of PATH, an international non-profit global health organization.
NEW SPEAKER IN CALIFORNIA: The California Assembly last week voted lesbian Assemblywoman Toni Atkins of San Diego as its new speaker. Atkins, who has been serving as majority leader, won the top spot with a unanimous vote of the Democrats in January. She will take the gavel from openly gay Speaker John Perez later this spring.
HARASSMENT SUIT DISMISSED: A federal judge in Jackson, Mississippi, on March 13 dismissed a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former female secretary against the female director of athletics at Jackson State University. Lolita Ward filed the lawsuit against her former boss, Vivian Fuller, in August 2012. Ward claimed Fuller made inappropriate comments and advances to her and that, when Ward rebuffed those advances, Fuller fired her. U.S. District Court Judge William Barbour Jr. dismissed the lawsuit.