Government Power to Protect Rights

  • Determined whether a person who is retaliated against for complaining of sex discrimination in federally funded education programs may bring a lawsuit for damages under Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in education.
  • Determined whether Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment authorized Congress to enact Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to the extent that it allows states to be sued for violating the ADA and allows Congress to enforce the ADA against the states.
  • When denying veterans' benefits to a service member with a same-sex spouse, should such classifications should be treated with heightened scrutiny.
  • Determined the constitutionality of enforcing the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to the states, under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Amici Curiae Brief of the American Civil Liberties Union, The National Consumer Law Center, and Legal Momentum, et al, in support of respondent on writ of certiorari to the U. S. Court of Appeal sfor the Fifth Circuit. This brief focuses on two contemporary forms of housing discrimination that have had particularly devastating consequences: race discrimination in subprime mortgage lending and sex discrimination against victims of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Congress enacted the Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) for the primary purpose of preventing children from viewing indecent or otherwise harmful material online. The legislators emphasized that its goal was “to help encourage the private sector to protect our children from being exposed to obscene and indecent material on the Internet” by removing liability for Internet companies that “make a good faith effort to edit the smut from their systems.” The First Circuit Court of Appeals—like several other courts—interpreted the law as providing complete immunity to websites that solicit and profit from illegal content so long as the legal claims against them bear some relationship to online content provided by a third party. Because Backpage’s “adult” services section contains advertisements written by paid users, the First Circuit held that the site was protected from liability for aiding the Petitioners’ sexual exploitation as minors, even though the Petitioners persuasively alleged that Backpage took an active role in shaping the content of the ads and deliberately tailored its website to “make sex trafficking easier.” This sweeping interpretation  is not what Congress intended when it enacted legislation seeking to encourage website operators to behave responsibly.