Information relating to pending laws or new case law in MA or NH

Prayer in Public

You may have heard that yesterday the US Supreme Court rendered a decision in Town of Grees v. Galloway et al 12-696.  I’ve seen many headlines this morning (see list below).  I’ve also read the decision, which is 80 pages long and is linked here:

I urge you to at least read the summary on the first few pages.  Essentially the court found that given the historical nature the use of prayer in this country in legislative bodies and town meetings, the use of prayer in these public forums does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.  I think what many people do not understand about the Establishment Clause is that is does not mean that there is to be no religion in the public square, it is that the government cannot coerce or force people to practice religion or endorse one religion over another…that doesn’t mean that others cannot pray or show signs of faith around you.  According to the facts of the case as reported in the opinion, there were no only Christian ministers invited to give the invocation, but also those of other faiths within the Town.  I urge you to decide for yourselves not to rely on the media reporting of this issue, which in my opinion makes it far more divisive an issue.

Supreme Court endorses prayers before town meetings
Chicago TribuneMay 5, 2014

Did Supreme Court strike a blow for religious freedom? Yes… and no
Fox News19 hours ago

Prayer case divides Supreme Court justices along religious lines
Los Angeles Times7 hours ago

Justices allow public prayers at New York town’s council meetings
CNN (blog)May 5, 2014

New York Times: A defeat for religious neutrality

Supreme Court is wrong: Prayers divide

Washington Post (blog)by Richard Cohen1 hour ago

MA Domestic Violence

The Jared Remy case has brought a spotlight to the issue of domestic violence in recent months here in Massachusetts, but there are cases throughout the Commonwealth and the country on a daily basis that get no publicity.  There are women that live in fear of their partner daily and if they leave an abusive relationship that they may be found by a partner/former partner and may be punished or even killed for their defiance.  These people need a voice and support and a legal system working to make them safer.  There are over 100 bills that have been introduced in the state legislature on the subject of domestic violence in this session alone, but there has been too little progress made.  Speaker DeLeo and AG Martha Coakley had a press conference the other day about yet another bill.  It was said that they expect to be able to get something passed within the next 60 days.  The question I ask is why does it take such a high profile case for the legislature to actually get anything moving forward on such important matters?  I realize that there are very complex issues at play, but it’s our elected officials’ job to deal with such issues; nevermind continuing discussion on a bill in committee that would prevent divorcing couples from having a dating relationship in the home without the court’s permission.  I implore you, can we please deal with the real problems in society like stopping violent offenders, not whether a person who is getting a divorce or in a custody battle can bring a date home?

Up-skirt Photos

You may or may not have heard on the news in the last few weeks, but earlier this month, the SJC ruled that a man who was arrested for taking photos up women’s skirts on the MBTA was not committing a crime.  The way that the law was written did not include taking pictures of the private parts of people who were fully clothed, only those who were undressed or partially undressed under the MA “peeping Tom” law.  Following this ruling, the MA legislature moved quickly and just days later, on March 6th, the legislature passed a bill to change the law to include “photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils” another person’s sexual or intimate parts without that person’s consent.  This is now a misdemeanor and a person convicted of such an act would face a maximum penalty of 2.5 yrs and $5,000 fine.

Employers can still legally ask for social media passwords of potential employees.

As of January 2014, only 11 states have laws prohibiting employers from asking you for login information (including passwords) to your personal social media accounts.  New Hampshire has legislation pending to address this issue in the current session.  Legislation on this issue was also introduced in Massachusetts in January 2013, but the bill is still sitting in the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce development.  Do you think an employer you are interviewing with or working for should be allowed to ask you to turn over your personal social media information as a condition of employment?