IU in the News

A daily digest of media coverage about Indiana University

February 21, 2019
IU in the News is a daily review of the important news stories relating to Indiana University. It is not intended to be an all-inclusive gathering of news, and no editorial revisions are made to the content, which is presented as it was initially published or broadcast.

Big News

IU receives AAU mini-grant for student success initiatives in STEM

This story has been covered by the following publications: Inside Indiana Business.

Study finds STEM achievement gaps shrink by nearly half when faculty view intelligence as malleable

This story has been covered by the following publications: Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Chemistry World, Pacific Standard, Inside Higher Ed, Ars Technica, The Scientist, Science News.

IU Voices in the News

The Washington Post

Christian tax preparer turns away lesbian couple on religious grounds

For four years, Bailey Brazzel says, she had employed the same tax preparer, Nancy Fivecoate of Carter Tax Service in Russiaville, Ind. Fivecoate prepared the taxes without issue each time -- until this year, when Brazzel brought her new wife, Samantha. Fivecoate declined to serve the couple, citing her religious beliefs. ... Fivecoate was legally within her right to deny service to the couple, said Steve Sanders, a law professor at Indiana University. In Indiana, he said, "sexual orientation is one of those things that is protected in some places and in other places it is not." Indiana has no statewide law protecting gay people from discrimination. It is left to individual cities and towns to decide whether to pass their own ordinances. Russiaville, where Fivecoate operates, is not covered by one, according to the Kokomo Tribune and the Indianapolis Star. ... Same-sex marriage is legal in Indiana, as it is nationwide. But gay couples aren't protected from other kinds of discrimination, Sanders said. In some parts of the state, "You can get married one day and fired the next," he said, adding that the Brazzels didn't appear to have much recourse other than "good old-fashioned shaming." "They can publicize the fact they were discriminated against," Sanders said. "In a free market, we believe we should have information about businesses and products. Maybe some people will want to go to (Fivecoate). … Some will want to stay away."

Fox 59

Russiaville tax service denies service to same-sex couple, cites religious freedom

A married couple in Russiaville says a local tax filing service denied them service because they're a same-sex couple. Bailey and Samantha Brazzel say they went to Carter Tax Service to file a joint return. Bailey Brazzel said she previously used the service, filing individually, without incident. However, when she took her new wife Samantha with her so they could file jointly, Carter Tax Service denied them service. The owners say it's because they are a same-sex couple. Nancy Fivecoate, owner of Carter Tax service, released a statement regarding the incident. ... Fivecoate's actions are considered a crime in parts of Indiana, like nearby Kokomo, but in Russiaville her actions are legal. Indiana law states that denying service to a gay couple is legal unless the local municipality, county or city has passed a human rights ordinance that prohibits such discrimination. "There's no law prohibiting it. It's just either a victory for religious freedom, or a blow to equal citizenship, depending on your perspective," IU McKinney School of Law Professor Robert Katz said.


Attorneys say more lawsuits coming as Covington student accuses Post of defamation

Experts expect The (Washington) Post will argue (Nicholas) Sandmann is a "limited-purpose public figure," likely by pointing to his participation in a major public protest over a controversial issue and possibly even his nationally-televised interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie days after the incident. If the court deems him a public figure, the plaintiff's case becomes significantly harder to prove. "Actual malice means that the author either knew that the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth at the time of publication," said Joseph Tomain, a former media attorney who teaches at the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. "Moreover, the burden of proof is 'clear and convincing' evidence, which is higher than the standard civil burden of proof, preponderance of the evidence."

Fox 59

Legal expert challenges new wording in Indiana's proposed hate crime bill

The controversy over Indiana's proposed hate crime law continues as some legal experts challenge the bill's wording. In a surprise move on Tuesday, Senate Republicans stripped the hate crimes bill of a list of protected classes and replaced it with the phrase "including bias." Supporters say that's a fair way to cover everyone, but legal experts said the bill is being set up to fail. "The story of this bill if it becomes law is not going to be a happy one," said IU McKinney School of Law Professor Robert Katz. "The term bias isn't a legal term. It's difficult for courts to interpret, it gives them no guidance on how to define that term," said Katz. He thinks that phrase makes the bill too vague. "I mean there's bias on all sorts of grounds," said Katz, "bias against Red Sox fans, bias against short people." ... In removing the list of protected classes, Katz said not only did the bill become too vague, but it creates problems for a defendant's due process. "It doesn't give people who might be prosecuted and punished under the law with advance notice as to what would trigger an aggravated penalty," said Katz, who believes that would make it easier to overturn a sentence on appeal.

The Indianapolis Star

U.S. Supreme Court: Range Rover seizure violated protections against excessive fines

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled police in Indiana acted improperly when they seized a $42,000 Range Rover from a man who sold a small amount of heroin -- a decision that threatens some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in property seizures annually by police across the country. In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the country's highest court ruled the Range Rover seizure was unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment's excessive fines clause. ... Shawn Boyne, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, said the decision has a broader implication to other states, which are using the same procedures "or even more troubling procedures." "The real problem is that it's really a disproportionate form of punishment because, unlike a fine you might get in a criminal case, that fine is set by the legislature and there's a cap," Boyne explained. "There's no cap on these and the legislature hasn't said, 'OK, for people caught with a gram of heroin, the limit is X.' So that's why the court says it's excessive, because there's no sense of proportionality between the property that's seized and the actual crime."

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