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DOJ: Criminalizing the Homeless Sleeping Outside Is Unconstitutional

Civil rights lawyers from the Department of Justice have lambasted a law in Boise, Idaho, that bans people who are homeless from sleeping in public places, The Washington Post's Emily Badger says. The DOJ said in a court filing such laws are unconstitutional when there aren't enough beds for homeless people to sleep indoors: "' When adequate shelter space does not exist, there is no meaningful distinction between the status of being homeless and the conduct of sleeping in public. Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity — i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.'"

Judge Overturns Idaho's Ag Gag Ban on Surveillance Inside Factory Farms

Idaho's "ag gag" law banning undercover surveillance inside of agricultural operations has been ruled unconstitutional, The Guardian's Rory Carroll reports. U.S. District Judge B Lynn Winmill ruled the ban violates the constitutional right to free speech and to equal protection: "'An agricultural facility’s operations that affect food and worker safety are not exclusively a private matter. Food and worker safety are matters of public concern.”'

Winmill also ruled that the Idaho statute violated the constitutional protection for equal protection under the law because it was motivated by animus toward animal rights activists.

Healthcare Providers Can't Force Medicaid Increases After Supreme Court Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court, 5-4, ruled in the past week that healthcare providers can't force states to raise Medicaid rates to keep up with rising medical costs, the Associated Press' Sam Hananel reports. The mostly more conservative justices in the majority said that private medical providers have no private right to enforce Medicaid funding laws because Congress did not create such a right.

The case involved five centers in Idaho that provide care to developmentally disabled children and adults, which claim that Idaho ignoring rising costs by keeping reimbursement rates low.

Challenge to Idaho's Ag-Gag Law Survives Dismissal

According to Food Safety News, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has allowed parts of a challenge to Idaho's ag-gag law to proceed, including a claim that it violates the First Amendment: "'Laws that restrict more protected speech than necessary violate the First Amendment,' Winmill wrote. 'Because this question of whether section 18-7042 burdens more speech that necessary remains unanswered, the court will not dismiss (Animal Legal Defense Fund’s) First Amendment claim.'"

Idaho's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Overturned

Idaho has become the latest state to have its ban on same-sex marriage overturned, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote, '''Idaho’s marriage laws withhold from them (gay and lesbian couples) a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted.  By doing so, Idaho’s marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized second class status.'"

Marriages can begin Friday morning.

Same-Sex Marriage, Family Rights Advance in Texas, Nevada, Idaho and Ohio

The cause of same-sex marriage and LGBT  rights advanced in several states around the country this week:

* The Idaho Supreme Court will now allow the adoption of a same-sex partner's children, The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh writes: "More broadly, the court concludes that such a second-parent adoption doesn’t require that the parties be married to each other, so that adoption of an opposite-sex partner’s (or even friend’s) children would be allowed as well, so long as the other requirements for adoption are met."

* Nevada has withdrawn its appeal to uphold that state's same-sex marriage ban, Bloomberg reports: "Nevada was defending a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages established by a voter-approved amendment. A federal judge in 2012 ruled that the state law didn’t violate the equal protection rights of eight same-sex couples that sued to overturn it. Yesterday, the state dropped its defense of the ban in the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco" due to the 9th Circuit's ruling that heightened constitutional scrutiny would not allow a gay man to be excluded from a trial involving an AIDS drug.

* Same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit to challenge Texas' same-sex marriage ban, Reuters reports.

* Same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit to challenge Ohio's ban on allowing both same-sex partners on children's birth certificates, the Associated Press reports. A similar Ohio lawsuit over death certificates had success, and the attorney prosecuting the cases says his tactics "will give the U.S. Supreme Court a wider variety of legal arguments to consider when appeals from various states reach their chambers."


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