News Roundup

Weekly Briefs: Controversial Florida education bills advance; ban on homebuyer 'love letters' blocked

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Florida lawmakers pass ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ anti-woke bills

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign two controversial bills passed by the legislature this week. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, approved by lawmakers Tuesday, bans public school instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Such instruction is also banned in other grades if it is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate. Parents can sue for violations. The ABA had opposed provisions in the bill. The “Stop WOKE Act,” approved Thursday, bars workplace training or classroom teaching that a person should feel guilty because of actions committed by those with the same race, color, sex or national origin. Lawsuits are also permitted for violations under Florida’s civil rights laws. (Reuters, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, CNN)

Oregon law banning homebuyer ‘love letters’ blocked

A federal judge has blocked a law that prevented real estate agents from passing along pitches from would-be homebuyers about why home sellers should select them. U.S. District Judge Marco Hernández of the District of Oregon noted the laudable goal of preventing housing discrimination but said the law violated the First Amendment with its broad ban on speech. (The Oregonian, USA Today, Pacific Legal Foundation press release, the March 3 opinion)

Bill making lynching a federal hate crime heads to Biden’s desk

Congress has finally passed a law making lynching a federal hate crime after similar measures failed to win approval for more than a century. In 2020, Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had raised concerns that a prior version of the bill could conflate lesser crimes with lynching. The bill that passed this week imposes a sentence of up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit a hate crime that results in death or serious bodily injury. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature. (The New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR)

9th Circuit will rehear challenge to gun-store closings

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco has agreed to rehear en banc a challenge to gun-store closings during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, a 9th Circuit panel had revived the Second Amendment lawsuit that challenged gun-store closings in Ventura County, California. The judge who wrote the panel opinion, Judge Lawrence VanDyke, also wrote an “alternative draft opinion” that could be used by the en banc court that would likely disagree with him. (Reuters, the 9th Circuit order via How Appealing)

Ex-lawyer known for ‘think like a criminal’ ad is sentenced in pot case

A former Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Daniel Muessig, 40, had pleaded guilty in November; prosecutors said he was a large-scale marijuana supplier. Muessig was known for a satirical video claiming that clients should hire him because “I think like a criminal.” (TribLive, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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