Good morning. Companies will face an increasingly complicated legal landscape in a post-Roe America, as they weigh balancing state abortion bans and the scope of employee benefits. Law firms, meanwhile, so far are largely quiet about their workforce plans, although a group earlier signaled their intent to provide legal support for women seeking abortions. Plus: the Biden administration indicated it will try to stop states from banning medication abortion pills, and Florida’s highest court takes up an abortion case today. The U.S. Supreme Court will issue more rulings today, so stay tuned as our Reuters team dives into the big stories.
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In the hours after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, a growing number of companies announced they would cover the costs if an employee needed to travel to obtain an abortion. But the move could expose the companies to lawsuits and even criminal liability, writes Daniel Wiessner.
Amazon.com, Apple, Lyft, Microsoft and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that said they would provide the benefits through their employee health insurance plans. But experts like Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois and expert on healthcare law, said the companies could face litigation from anti-abortion groups arguing that the policies violate the state bans on the procedure.
"If you can sue me as a person for carrying your daughter across state lines, you can sue Amazon for paying for it," Wilson said.
Read more to see how the policies could pose legal problems for these companies.
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Dozens of large U.S. law firms were publicly silent after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative wing overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling. The reticence from some of the country’s top firms was in contrast to some major companies that made statements about the ruling and protecting employees.
Reuters reporters Karen Sloan, Jacqueline Thomsen and Mike Scarcella asked more than 30 U.S. law firms, including the 20 largest by total number of lawyers, for their comments on the ruling and whether it would cover travel costs for employees seeking an abortion. The vast majority did not respond by Saturday afternoon. Kent Zimmermann, a law firm consultant with the Zeughauser Group, told Reuters: “This is a tightrope to walk for firms. They have a diversity of views among their talent and clients.”
One firm, Ropes & Gray, said it would implement such a travel policy. Morrison & Foerster was the only one to issue a public statement by Saturday afternoon. The firm's chair Larren Nashelsky said it would "honor" a past promise to "redouble our efforts to protect abortion and other reproductive rights." A number of law firms publicly signaled ahead of the ruling that they planned to provide free legal support to women seeking abortions if Roe were to be overturned.
American Airlines’ lawyers at O’Melveny are gearing up for a fee fight in Manhattan federal court, as they eye compensation for a long-running antitrust case against flight-booking company Sabre. A Skadden team for Sabre has suggested American isn’t entitled to fees after winning $1 in damages at trial last month. (Reuters)
- As part of a funding package, a U.S. House of Representatives panel is pushing the Judicial Conference of the United States to report any misconduct by judges to Congress within 30 days. (Reuters)
When the U.S. Senate voted to pass bipartisan legislation to curb gun violence, it acted on a bill that was originally designed to rename a federal courthouse in Florida after a pioneering Black judge. The gun safety measures were tacked on to an existing bill that sought to name a Tallahassee courthouse after former U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph Hatchett. (Reuters)
REUTERS Graphic by Travis Hartman, Ally J. Levine and Sam Hart
That’s how many states are set to outlaw abortions under existing laws or constitutional amendments following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs. If these states ban abortion access, large areas of the United States could be more than 300 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic. View more Reuters graphics on state laws now in focus in a post-Roe America.
Is the U.S. Supreme Court’s momentous ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization the beginning of the end of deference to established precedent? Certainly not according to the majority, which cited landmark civil rights and worker protection cases as previous examples of decisions that overturned established but “egregiously wrong” precedent. But, as Alison Frankel discusses, the four justices who didn’t join the majority opinion said the majority misconstrued the rationale for disregarding stare decisis — and that the consequence of ditching precedent may shake the very legitimacy of the court.
Reuters video journalist Tom Rowe gives you an early view of the week ahead in legal news. Watch the video. And to hear what’s coming up this week, listen to Alex Cohen’s Audio Lookahead.
"In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell."
—Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who said the reasoning behind the dismantling of Roe v. Wade should lead to the undoing of several of the court’s most significant decisions: Griswold, which dealt with the right to contraception; Lawrence, which legalized same-sex sexual activity; and Obergefell, which legalized gay marriage. In contrast, Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the majority opinion, said the court’s ruling in Dobbs doesn’t apply to those other cases. In their own words, read more from the Supreme Court justices on the ruling.
A Florida state court judge in Leon County will consider whether to block enforcement of the state's new Republican-backed ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion providers in the state, including Planned Parenthood, have argued that the ban violates the state's constitution, citing a decades-old Florida Supreme Court ruling that said the broad privacy protections in the state's constitution extend to a woman's right to obtain an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue more opinions today — seven are outstanding from this term. The cases include West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, which deals with the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a lawsuit brought by a high school football coach whom the school barred from praying at the 50-yard line after games.
A trial is slated to begin in a lawsuit brought by a group of Black Georgia voters against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger involving a state commission that regulates public utilities and railroads. The voters, represented by a team from Bartlit Beck and Bryan Sells, say the election process for commissioners of the Georgia Public Service Commission discriminates against Black voters and candidates.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
On Tuesday, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is scheduled to be sentenced after she was convicted of helping her one-time boyfriend, the sex offender and globetrotting financier Jeffrey Epstein, sexually abuse teenage girls. Prosecutors have asked that Maxwell receive between 30 and 55 years in prison, while Maxwell’s attorneys have said she deserves no more than 5 ¼ years based on federal sentencing guidelines.
Then on Wednesday, R&B singer R. Kelly is expected to be sentenced following his September 2021 conviction for a longrunning a racketeering scheme to lure women and underage girls into his orbit for sex. U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn, who presided over his 5-1/2 week trial, will hand down the sentence. Kelly faces a minimum of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors are asking for more than 25 years, while Kelly’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, has argued that her client deserves no more than 17.5 years.
On Thursday former Tesla engineer Alex Yatskov will ask a San Francisco federal court to dismiss the electric car company’s lawsuit accusing him of misappropriating trade secrets related to its Dojo AI-training supercomputer. Yatskov, represented by John Kirke of Donahue Fitzgerald, says Tesla filed the lawsuit during his last day of work at the company, and that he turned over company property shortly after he left. Tesla, represented by Charles Graves of Wilson Sonsini, accused Yatskov of stealing confidential data and turning over a "dummy" laptop to the company to cover his tracks.
A hearing is scheduled on Friday in a lawsuit against Richard Posner, a retired judge on the 7th Circuit, by an Indiana man who says he is owed $170,000 for serving as the co-executive director of the prominent jurist's short-lived assistance project for pro se litigants. Brian Vukadinovich, recruited by Posner to help run his Posner Center of Justice for Pro Se's, filed the lawsuit in federal court in Hammond, Indiana. The hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joshua Kolar concerns a discovery matter and Vukadinovich's litigant status as, you guessed it, pro se.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
The Biden administration indicated it will seek to prevent states from banning a pill used for medication abortion in light of the Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. A legal battle over medication abortion is pending in Mississippi court. (Reuters)
The justices’ abortion ruling represents a victory long in the making for a well-organized conservative movement that is pushing America's courts rightward, aided by legal activists and deft political maneuvering by top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell. (Reuters)
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan refused to dismiss a $6.4 billion lawsuit accusing Bristol Myers Squibb of delaying its Breyanzi cancer drug to avoid payments to shareholders of Celgene, which the drugmaker bought for $80.3 billion in 2019. (Reuters)
Juul’s lawyers at Kirkland turned to the D.C. Circuit for emergency relief to temporarily block an FDA order requiring the vape company to take its e-cigarettes off the shelves in the U.S. A panel of judges put the order on hold at least until July 12. (Reuters)
Melissa Sandak left Schulte Roth to join Goodwin’s ERISA and executive compensation practice as a partner in New York. (Goodwin)
Amanda Leese jumped to Quarles & Brady from Greenberg Traurig. Leese is joining Quarles’ business law practice in Washington, D.C. (Quarles & Brady)
Jackson Lewis said Charles Wilson joined the firm as Houston office managing principal. Wilson, an employment litigator, comes from Littler. (Jackson Lewis)
Alston & Bird brought on Evan Hudson as a New York-based partner focused on financial services and products and real estate investment trusts. He arrives at the firm from Stroock. (Alston)
When working together to create a fund made of existing assets and new ones known as a GP-led secondary, investors and the general partner running the fund don’t typically conduct the extensive due diligence associated with mergers and acquisitions before moving forward. That’s not necessarily the safest course of action, write Fadi Samman, Timothy Clark and Krishna Skandakumar of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Read more.
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