U.S. Supreme Court rules on religious accommodations, Facebook threats and more

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By: Associated Press

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has sided with a Muslim woman who did not get hired after she showed up to a job interview with clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch wearing a head scarf.

The justices said Monday that employers generally have to accommodate job applicants and employees with religious needs if the employer at least has an idea that such accommodation is necessary.

Job applicant Samantha Elauf did not tell her interviewer in Oklahoma she was Muslim.

But Justice Antonin Scalia said for the court that Abercrombie “at least suspected” that Elauf wore a head scarf for religious reasons. Scalia said: “That is enough.”

FACEBOOK THREATS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has thrown out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man accused of making threats on Facebook.

The justices ruled Monday that it was not enough for prosecutors to show that the comments of Anthony Elonis would make a reasonable person feel threatened.

Elonis was prosecuted for making illegal threats after he posted Facebook rants in the form of rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife, harming law enforcement officials and shooting up a school.

Elonis claimed the government had no right to prosecute him if he didn’t actually intend his comments to be threatening to others. But the Obama administration said that the test is whether the comments would strike fear in a reasonable person.

SECOND MORTGAGE

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court says homeowners who declare bankruptcy can’t void a second mortgage even if the home isn’t worth what they owe on the first mortgage.

The justices on Monday ruled in favor of Bank of America in two Florida cases where bankrupt homeowners wanted to “strip off” a second loan because they were underwater on the primary mortgage.

Lower courts allowed both homeowners to nullify the second loans and the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed both cases.

But Bank of America said the rulings conflicted with Supreme Court precedent. The company argued that the second loan might be repaid eventually if the property’s value rises.

The homeowners argued that the second loans were basically worthless.

2004 INMATE SUICIDE

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says former Delaware prison administrators are immune from a lawsuit over a 2004 inmate suicide.

The justices on Monday ruled against the family of Christopher Barkes, who hanged himself just hours after being arrested for violating probation.

A federal appeals court ruled last year that the family could pursue claims that the prison violated Barkes’ constitutional rights by failing to conduct a proper suicide prevention screening.

But the justices in an unsigned opinion said there was no clearly established law at the time giving inmates a right to adequate suicide prevention protocols.