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Professor Lisa McElroy Previews Supreme Court Term on Radio Times

Professor Lisa A. Tucker

October 01, 2014

Professor Lisa McElroy discussed cases that will be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming term as a guest on WHYY’s Radio Times on Oct. 1. 

Joining University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Kermit Roosevelt and guest host Jeff Brady on the program, McElroy previewed cases on the docket dealing with the First Amendment, religious freedom and pregnancy discrimination.

The court will hear the case of Anthony Elonis, who was prosecuted for posting a facebook message that frightened his estranged wife, McElroy said, explaining that the First Amendment does not protect speech that poses a “true threat.” 

McElroy said the case raises questions about how one determines what constitutes a true threat, and that the prosecution at trial succeeded in arguing that “a reasonable person would be afraid here.” 

In Young v. United Parcel Service, the court will grapple with the case of a pregnant woman who alleges her employer discriminated against her by requiring her to lift heavy packages, despite her doctor’s recommendation to the contrary. 

The case pits a law that forbids employers from treating pregnant employees differently against one that protects discrimination against the disabled, McElroy said. 

Noting controversy surrounding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent remarks that the court has been insensitive to women’s rights, McElroy said the case promises to raise interesting questions. 

The Holt v. Hobbs case, in which a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas claims that rules forbidding him from growing a beard violate his religious freedom,  will require the court to take a stand on the rights of non-Christians, McElroy said.  While the court upheld the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby's right to refuse to pay for contraception for its employees, McElroy said “it will be interesting to see if the court embraces all religions.”