On this day in legal history, October 12, 1977, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the landmark case of Allan Bakke, which centered around the contentious issue of "reverse discrimination." Bakke, a white student, had been denied admission to the University of California Davis Medical School, with the school reserving a specific number of seats for minority applicants. Bakke argued that this affirmative action policy amounted to racial discrimination against him. The case was seen as a significant challenge to affirmative action programs aimed at redressing past racial injustices.
During the oral arguments, the justices grappled with the complex question of whether race-based admissions policies violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The case ultimately led to a divided decision. In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bakke, stating that while affirmative action was permissible, the use of racial quotas in admissions was unconstitutional. This decision had far-reaching implications for affirmative action policies in higher education and set a precedent for future legal battles on the issue.
A divided en banc US appeals court has granted California's emergency stay of a lower court ruling that barred the state from enforcing its law limiting the capacity of gun magazines to 10 bullets or less. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit voted 7-4, allowing most of the trial judge's order to be stayed, with the exception of magazines lawfully acquired and possessed before the judge's order granting a permanent injunction. The court stated that Attorney General Rob Bonta was likely to succeed on the merits, citing the 2021 US Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, which limited the restrictions states can place on where gun owners can take their firearms. This majority decision noted that, since the Bruen decision, ten other federal district courts have considered Second Amendment challenges to large-capacity magazine restrictions, and only one court, the Southern District of Illinois, granted a preliminary injunction.
The majority found that California demonstrated that it would face significant harm if the stay was denied, as it could lead to an influx of large-capacity magazines, posing potential threats to public safety. The ruling stated that other interested parties would not be substantially harmed by the stay, and it does not impede the public's ability to purchase and possess various firearms and magazines containing 10 rounds or fewer. This recent decision, while not deciding the case's merits, has temporarily stayed the injunction, allowing California to enforce its large-capacity magazine limit while the case proceeds.
Anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum's American Alliance for Equal Rights has dropped a lawsuit against Perkins Coie, a U.S. law firm, over its diversity fellowship program. The decision came after Perkins Coie revised its application criteria, allowing all law students to apply, not just those from "historically underrepresented" groups. Blum's group had initially sued two firms in August, alleging that their diversity fellowship programs unlawfully excluded individuals, including white students, based on their race. The move to open these programs to all students preempted further legal action, though Blum highlighted the existence of similar "racially discriminatory programs" at other law firms, encouraging them to do the same. Last year, major U.S. law firms had just 11.4% partners from people of color, according to the National Association for Law Placement.
Pfizer has agreed to a $50 million settlement to resolve claims by drug wholesalers that they overpaid for EpiPen allergy treatment devices due to alleged anticompetitive practices by the drugmaker. The wholesalers argued that Pfizer, which manufactured the EpiPen for Mylan, engaged in anticompetitive behavior that allowed them to maintain a monopoly over the market for EpiPens, leading to inflated prices. This class action settlement, filed in a Kansas City, Kansas federal court, must still be approved by the judge.
The legal action against Pfizer and Mylan followed public outrage in 2016 when Mylan raised the price of EpiPens from $100 to $600. The lawsuits claimed that the companies engaged in anticompetitive practices to stifle competition and maintain high profits, including paying Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to delay the launch of a generic version of the EpiPen. In 2021, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismissed the claims against Pfizer on the grounds that it was Mylan, not Pfizer, that directly sold the EpiPen. In 2021 and 2022, groups of consumers reached settlements of $345 million and $264 million with Pfizer and Mylan, respectively, over related claims.