Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie & Fitch in Headscarf Case

High court announces four decisions Monday.

ByALI WEINBERG and KATE SHAW
June 01, 2015, 12:08 PM

— -- The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 today that the retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when an assistant manager denied Samantha Elauf, an observant Muslim woman, a job because her headscarf violated Abercrombie’s “Look Policy,” that prohibits “caps” from being worn on the sale floor.

Abercrombie acknowledged that was why Elauf was not hired.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Abercrombie on Elauf’s behalf, but the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals contended that Abercrombie was not liable because Elauf did not provide actual notice of the need for a religious accommodation during her job interview.

The Supreme Court reversed that decision. In a majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “Here the employer at least suspected that the practice was a religious one; its refusal to hire was motivated by the desire to avoid accommodating that practice, and that is enough."

Here is a look at some other SCOTUS rulings:

Man Who Posted Threatening Lyrics on Facebook Will Get New Trial

Seven justices overturned a conviction against aspiring rapper Anthony Douglas “Tone Dougie” Elonis after he posted threatening messages in the form of rap lyrics on Facebook. Two examples include lyrics that appeared to be against his wife and lyrics referring to a kindergarten school:

“Fold up your [protection-from-abuse order] and put it in your pocketIs it thick enough to stop a bullet?Try to enforce an Order that was improperly granted in the first place …I’ve got enough explosives totake care of the State Police and the Sheriff ’s Department.”

“That’s it, I’ve had about enoughI’m checking out and making a name for myself Enough elementary schools in a ten mile radius to initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined And hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a Kindergarten classThe only question is . . . which one?”

At Elonis’s trial, the jury was instructed to convict if a reasonable person would have interpreted Elonis’s statements as threats. The jury convicted and sentenced Elonis to three years eight months in prison.

But the Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, held that the government had been required to make a stronger showing about Elonis’s state of mind. It actually didn’t clarify exactly what standard should govern—it’s clear that intent to convey a threat would be enough, but the Court left open whether recklessness would be sufficient. The Court did not squarely address any First Amendment issues, but the bottom line is that this is a win for Elonis, who will get a new trial.

A Sock Full of Adderall Can’t Trigger Deportation

The Supreme Court reversed a decision to deport Moones Mellouli, a Tunisian-born lawful permanent resident of the US, because he was found with a sock containing Adderall during a prison term for a DUI. He was deported under a provision of federal immigration law that authorizes deportation of an alien convicted of a violation “relating to a controlled substance,” but the SCOTUS ruled that the federal government does not count Adderall as a “controlled substance,” although Kansas, where Mellouli was charged, does.

“The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has long read the deportation statute to require a direct link between an alien’s crime of conviction and a particular federally controlled drug. That link is missing here,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in the bench statement). The justices ruled 7-2 that Mellouli’s deportation should not stand.

Underwater homes: Can you make a second mortgage go away?

Bank of America got a win as the Supreme Court ruled that homeowners cannot erase second mortgages through bankruptcy if the homeowners are “underwater, “or, their first mortgage exceeds the home’s current value.

The unanimous decision reversed an 11th Circuit ruling that homeowners in Chapter 7 bankruptcy could “strip off” a second mortgage.

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