Sunday, April 03, 2005

This week in law and policy

Title IX protects whistleblowers

A divided Supreme Court ruled this week that Title IX protects whistleblowers from retaliation. Any person who reports an institution's abuse of Title IX regulations regarding the funding of women's sports may not be fired in retaliation for that report. The ruling marks a significant expansion in the law's reach, as it confers a private right of action on individuals who have been retaliated against and rules that the victim of retaliation need not have been the victim of the discrimination.

The case is Jackson v Birmingham Board of Education, docket 02-1672, and as always you can read more at the SCOTUSblog.

Supreme Court strengthens age discrimination law

In an era when "40 is the new 30," the Court has held that intentional discrimination need not be proved in age bias suits. Rather, demonstration of a policy's disparate impact on older workers suffices to bring a case to trial. Employers will then be able to rebut by showing a reasonable, age-irrelevant basis for the policy.

Within five years, half of the workforce will be age 40 and higher. Read more from NYT and from SCOTUSblog.

Federal judge rebukes President and Congress for Schiavo law

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear an appeal based on a law passed by Congress that transferred jurisdiction of the Schiavo case from state to federal court. In arguing that the law was unconstitutional, Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr.'s concurring opinion stated that President Bush and Congress had acted "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people." Judge Birch was nominated by the first President Bush and is regarded as a consistently conservative jurist. More here.

Former detainee from Canada files suit

Maher Arar, a 35-year-old Canadian engineer, has filed suit against the United States, alleging that he was apprehended, transported, and detained illegally and that torture was used against him during his detention. His charges appear to be the most credible yet reported; the New York Times reports that flight logs bolster his claims.

The Canadian citizen alleges that American authorities apprehended him in New York as he changed planes en route from Tunisia, where he had just vacationed. He was taken to Syria and held for ten months where, he says, the conditions of his detention were cruelly cramped and he was beaten with a steel cable.

Arar's treatment reflects the Bush administrtion policy of extraordinary rendition, in which detainees are deported for the purposes of interrogation. While US officials insist that they would not knowingly deport a person to a nation that would use torture, credible stories like Arar's have weakened that claim. Canada has been conducting an inquiry into Arar's case for the last year. The Justice Department has not commented on the case and the Bush administration has refused to cooperate in the Canadian inquiry, citing concern about the revelation of classified information.

Study rebukes US on pre-war Iraqi WMD intelligence

A Presidential Commission study released March 31 sharply rebukes US agencies for failures connected to the collection of intelligence purportedly indicating Iraqi WMD possession. The commission places part of the blame on outmoded Cold War tendencies and a cumbersome bureaucracy that overly burdens capable and dedicated intelligence agents.

The Commission also concluded that the damage done to American credibility abroad by the botched intelligence on Iraq will take several years and continual effort to reverse.

The report's recommendations included a reorganization of the Justice Department, better data coordination, and better training for intelligence professionals. Read more here.

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