On this day in legal history, on October 26, 1916, feminist and birth control activist Margaret Sanger was arrested for her pioneering efforts in promoting and distributing birth control information in the United States. Just days prior, on October 16, 1916, Sanger had opened the nation's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. This clinic, known as the Brownsville Clinic, aimed to provide women with information on contraception and family planning, both of which were highly controversial topics at the time.
Sanger's arrest came as a result of violating the Comstock Laws. By way of very brief background,the Comstock Laws were a set of federal and state statutes in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries aimed at suppressing and regulating what was considered obscene or immoral materials. They were named after Anthony Comstock, a social reformer and secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, who lobbied for stricter regulations on materials he deemed indecent. The laws were primarily focused on issues related to obscenity, contraception, and abortion.
Shifting our focus back to Sanger and the Brownsville clinic, the clinic was quickly shut down, and Sanger faced charges for her actions. This arrest and subsequent trial were pivotal moments in the history of the birth control movement in the United States, ultimately leading to increased awareness and acceptance of contraception as a fundamental aspect of women's reproductive rights. Margaret Sanger's advocacy laid the groundwork for the eventual legalization of birth control.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has reached a tentative labor agreement with Ford Motor Co., potentially ending a prolonged strike that has been costly for the automotive industry. Ford has agreed to a record 25% hourly wage increase over the four-year contract, and with cost-of-living allowances, the top wage rate is expected to increase by 33%, exceeding $40 an hour. Ford, the automaker with the largest UAW workforce among Detroit's "Big Three," was the first to offer a counter-proposal and has now become the first to settle. UAW leadership will vote on the deal on October 29, followed by ratification by Ford's 57,000 U.S. hourly workers, a process that may take several weeks.
The strike had revolved around various issues, with pay being one of the last points of contention. The UAW had initially sought a 40% raise and a 32-hour work week but scaled back its demands. Ford had already agreed to cost-of-living allowances, converting temporary hires to full-time positions, and expediting the time it takes for workers to reach the top wage rate.
Details about wages and benefits at battery plants were not included in the initial announcement. It remains unclear if the agreement covers Ford's four battery plants under construction.
The strike, which began on September 15, grew to involve more than 45,000 workers at eight assembly plants and 38 parts-distribution facilities. General Motors and Stellantis will meet with the UAW, with hopes that they will agree to similar terms. The UAW urged Ford workers to return to work during the ratification process to keep pressure on the other two automakers. GM and Stellantis have expressed their commitment to reaching agreements as soon as possible.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has introduced a new final rule that makes it easier for multiple companies to be considered joint employers, sharing liability for labor law violations and legal obligations to engage with unions. This rule replaces a regulation put in place less than four years ago, which had made it more difficult for companies to be classified as joint employers.
The determination of joint employment status, whether through regulations or case law, has been a subject of contentious debate over the past decade. This new rule broadens the criteria for establishing joint employment, extending beyond situations where one business directly controls the most critical aspects of a worker's job.
The updated test now considers indirect and unexercised control as well. This means that if a company exerts influence over another company's workers through an intermediary or holds contractual authority over employment terms, even if that authority is never exercised, it can be considered evidence of a joint employer relationship. This change in the joint employer test has significant implications for industries like franchising, where independently owned franchise locations might have to negotiate with unions if both the franchisor and the franchisee are deemed joint employers of unionized workers.
The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has announced that the current version of the bar exam will continue to be available until February 2028, extending beyond the previously planned retirement date of July 2027. In addition to the existing Uniform Bar Exam, the NCBE will introduce a new Next Gen Bar Exam in July 2026. During the two-year overlap, states will have the option to choose between the two exams before the uniform exam is phased out, leaving the next-gen version as the sole option.
The decision of which bar exam to use will be made by individual state courts, bar associations, or law examiners. The extension was prompted by feedback from some courts, which expressed the need for more time to transition to the new exam and to provide law schools with ample notice regarding which test their graduates would take.
The Next Gen Bar Exam is designed to emphasize legal skills and reduce the reliance on memorizing laws. As of now, no jurisdiction has committed to using the next-gen exam upon its debut in July 2026.