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Inmate Sex Change, the Pledge of Allegiance and David Barron

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on May 12, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The First Circuit is bustling with high profile cases right now, many of which are stirring up a bit of controversy. First, there's some question as to whether David Barron will get confirmed -- some say if he were, there would be a "war criminal sitting on the U.S. First Circuit," according to Common Dreams. Ouch.

That's not all. Next, we have a final ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court on the Pledge of Allegiance, and an en banc rehearing of the case of the inmate who "needs" sex re-assignment surgery. Read on for details.

Will David Barron Get Confirmed?

Judicial confirmations were off to a slow start this presidential term, but picked up once the Senate opted for the nuclear option. But one confirmation is not so clear-cut -- that of Harvard Law Professor David Barron. What could be so controversial about a law professor? Oh, just the fact that he "co-authored the infamous Justice Department opinion authorizing Obama's murder of U.S. citizens," says Professor Francis Boyle. Yes, the memo that the Second Circuit recently ruled the Government must release.

Last week, the ACLU sent a letter to all U.S. Senators urging them to read the Office of Legal Counsel's memo authorizing the killing of U.S. citizens by drone strike before voting on Barron's confirmation. Whether Barron will be confirmed remains to be seen, but we're not that optimistic for him.

Massachusetts Pledge of Allegiance Case

On Friday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance did not violate an atheist couple's (whose children attended public school) equal protection rights and religious beliefs. The court stated, "We hold that the recitation of the pledge, which is entirely voluntary, violates neither the Constitution nor the statute," reports The Boston Globe.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Barbara Lenk noted that in another case, it may be possible to prove that the phrase "under God" in the Pledge violates the equal protection rights of a non-believer, stating, "A reference to a supreme being, by its very nature, distinguishes between those who believe such a being exists and those whose beliefs are otherwise." She added that if that if the plaintiffs could prove "the distinction created by the pledge as currently written has engendered bullying or differential treatment, I would leave open the possibility that the equal rights amendment might provide a remedy," according to The Boston Globe.

En Banc Hearing on Inmate Sex Change Case

Back in January, the First Circuit Court of Appeals became the first circuit to affirm a district court's finding that an inmate is entitled to sex reassignment surgery -- at the expense of tax payers -- where there is a "serious medical need" for surgery, reports The Boston Globe. Last week, an en banc panel of the First Circuit reheard arguments in the appeal, and a decision is expected "at a later date," says WCVB.

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