News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Judge rules against courtroom prayer program; public comment sought on student loans

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Judge rules against courtroom prayer program

A federal judge in Texas has ruled against a Texas justice of the peace in a suit claiming that he violated the establishment clause by soliciting chaplains to deliver courtroom prayers at the opening of court proceedings. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt of the Southern District of Texas said the program instituted by Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack impermissibly coerced court attendees into participating, even though signs state that people can leave during the ceremony. (Courthouse News Service, Freedom From Religion Foundation press release, Hoyt’s May 20 opinion)

Public comment sought by DOE on student loans

Virtual public hearings on student loan repayment, forgiveness and discharge will be June 21, 23 and 24, according to a Monday news release from the U.S. Department of Education. Stakeholder feedback gathered during the hearings will be used for future rule-making sessions, according to the release. Potential topics could include public service loan forgiveness, borrowers defense to repayment and loan discharges for borrowers with total and permanent disabilities. People who want to present comments at the hearing must register by sending an email to [email protected] (Department of Education press release)

Feds press workers into service as prison guards

Cooks, teachers and nurses are among the correctional workers who are guarding inmates as a result of a shortage of federal correctional officers. Nearly one-third of federal correctional officer jobs are vacant. The Associated Press reports that “overworked employees are burning out quickly and violent encounters are being reported on a near-daily basis.” (The Associated Press)

Judge allows suit claiming bias by DA’s office

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero of the Northern District of California has ruled that five female deputy district attorneys can pursue their lawsuit claiming a culture of gender discrimination by Contra Costa County, California, and its district attorney’s office. Spero said four of the women can also pursue age bias claims. The women claimed that less qualified male attorneys and younger lawyers received more favorable treatment. (Bloomberg Law, Spero’s May 20 decision)

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