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In this edition of the SCOTUSblog’s Round-Up, Edith Roberts highlights a few noteworthy cases dealing with religious freedom for death row inmates and prisoners in general as well as gender and sexuality-based discrimination in the workplace. Other prominent topics discussed in this blog post include mail-in voting, Second Amendment rights, and the rights of the U.S. Forest Service as they pertain to approving the construction of a natural gas pipeline through protected land.


Amy Howe reports for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court, that last night the court temporarily blocked the execution of Ruben Gutierrez, a Texas inmate who argues that the state’s refusal to allow him to have a spiritual advisor of his choosing by his side in the death chamber violates his First Amendment rights and a federal law that protects the religious rights of inmates. For The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Jess Bravin reports that “Mr. Gutierrez’s case provides the court an opportunity to set a nationwide standard for the religious rights of prisoners about to die.”

Mark Sherman explains at AP why the assignment of Monday’s opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in which the court held that federal employment discrimination law protects gay and transgender employees, to Justice Neil Gorsuch left court-watchers “scratching their heads, … but not because the appointee of President Donald Trump might have been expected to side with his conservative colleagues in dissent”: “Gorsuch’s opinion was his second for [the] October [argument session] while three of his colleagues wrote nothing.” For The Washington Post (subscription required), Robert Barnes reports that “those who saw oral arguments in the cases now collectively known as Bostock v. Clayton County knew that Gorsuch seemed key”: The advocates for the employees “passed up an appeal to fairness or equality in favor of arguing that the broad text of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act already protected their clients.”


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