‘Lawless behavior’: Legal experts say the Supreme Court acted out of ‘political motivations’ in upholding Texas’ abortion ban

supreme court justices brett kavanaugh and amy coney barrett
Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021.

  • Critics are ripping into the Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold a Texas abortion law.
  • Legal experts said that the criticism is warranted. One called the court’s behavior “lawless.”
  • The court is due to consider the constitutionality of abortion in a major case this term.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Supreme Court opened the door to fierce backlash after a narrow majority upheld a strict Texas law that bans abortions past the six-week mark of pregnancy in a ruling last week.

From President Joe Biden to advocacy leaders, critics have knocked the court’s decision, arguing it flouts the constitutional right to an abortion established nearly 50 years ago under Roe v. Wade. That Supreme Court decision, along with other major abortion rulings since, protect the right to an abortion until pre-viability, or the point when a fetus can survive outside of the womb, which most experts say occurs around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The court’s refusal to block the Texas law “unleashes unconstitutional chaos,” Biden said last Thursday, hours after the decision was handed down. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit this week in an attempt to block the six-week abortion ban.

“This is the loudest alarm yet that abortion rights are in grave danger, in Texas and across the country,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in response to the ruling.

Some legal experts, too, have piled on the criticism. They argue that the Supreme Court justices, who are meant to behave as interpreters and appliers of the law, instead conducted themselves as partisan lawmakers in the Texas decision.

“Our court is broken. I mean, it’s more of a political institution than it is a legal institution,” Barry McDonald, a law professor at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, told Insider, adding that the Texas law is “flagrantly unconstitutional.”

The Texas decision came via a little-known process called the ‘shadow docket’

At midnight on September 1, a Texas statute that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when many people do not yet know they are pregnant, went into effect. The law makes no inceptions for cases of rape or incest and invites private citizens, rather than state officials, to enforce the ban.

It was not until 24 hours later when the Supreme Court responded to a request from abortion providers in the state to block the law. The court declined the appeal, and handed down its 5-4 opinion via a little-known process dubbed the “shadow docket.”

The shadow docket, a term coined by University of Chicago law professor William Baude in 2015, refers to the range of decisions the Supreme Court makes that fall out of line with its normal routine. Unlike the lengthy process the court uses to decide 60-70 major cases per term, these shadow docket rulings are usually short, unsigned and could come before any oral arguments take place before the court, as was the case with the Texas decision.

Supreme Court building
The US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, is seen at sunset.

Traditionally, the court uses the shadow docket for procedural purposes to accept or deny applications for emergency action in typically small, uncontroversial cases. But in recent years, the court’s use of the shadow docket has sparked outrage over what critics describe as increasingly partisan and unsubstantial rulings, including now in the Texas abortion case.

“In the abortion case, it’s not only short, it’s just a jumble of nonsense,” Richard Pierce, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, told Insider of the court’s opinion. “It’s incoherent. The reasoning makes no sense at all.”

The court’s majority, in an unsigned opinion, argued that its ruling was technical and not based on the substance of the Texas law, which could still be legally challenged.

“In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” the majority wrote.

Yet experts dispute the court’s decision-making. “That’s lawless behavior,” Pierce said.

“It just concerns me tremendously,” he added. “To me, the court should never take any action without providing a full set of reasons, telling us why it acted as it did. And the court has not been doing this in these cases that are referred to as the shadow docket.”

“It’s stunning,” McDonald said of the court’s ruling. “It just adds to this perception that the court is acting out of political motivations as opposed to impartial and objective application of legal principles.”

‘I would be surprised’ if the Supreme Court chooses to overturn Roe

It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will consider the Texas law on its merits any time soon. But the nine justices are due to review the constitutionality of abortion this upcoming term in a major case that could threaten Roe v. Wade. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerns a Mississippi law that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

How the justices choose to decide that case is unpredictable, experts say. Conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, along with President Donald Trump’s three appointees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, voted to uphold the Texas six-week abortion ban.

Neil Gorsuch
Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, after President Donald Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court.

Still, it’s tough to determine whether those justices would go as far as to throw out Supreme Court precedent dating back to 1973.

“I would be surprised if, in the Mississippi case, even the five hardcore conservatives on the court would be willing to overturn Roe and Casey,” McDonald said, referring to the 1992 Supreme Court ruling, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed Roe.

“But they might move the goalpost viability to earlier in the pregnancy,” he continued.

“I don’t have any doubt that six of those justices, the six conservatives, would not have signed the Roe v. Wade opinion and disagree with the Roe v. Wade opinion,” Pierce said. “But that’s not same as saying that they’re prepared to overrule it. The court, for some pretty good reasons, is reluctant to overrule a long-standing precedent of that height.”

The court’s decision is expected to come next summer. In the meantime, however, a slew of Republican-led states are moving to enact their own versions of Texas’ six-week ban in an effort to restrict access to abortion across the nation. Texans seeking to get an abortion are already trying to book appointments for the procedure outside of the state.

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Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin granted parole after Douglas Kennedy said his father’s killer was ‘worthy of compassion and love’

Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego.
Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego.

  • Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 and has been in prison ever since.
  • A California parole board recommended Sirhan for parole after two of RFK’s sons supported him.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom will make the final decision on whether to set Sirhan free.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A California parole board recommended that Robert F. Kennedy’s killer should be granted parole after two of RFK’s sons said they supported his release, AP reported.

Sirhan Sirhan shot and killed the former attorney general, senator, and presidential hopeful in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy had just delivered a speech following his victory in California’s Democratic primary.

The 77-year-old, who has served 53 years in prison, has long maintained that he does not remember the killing.

Appearing on camera at the virtual proceeding, Sirhan said he has learned to control his anger and was committed to living peacefully, according to AP.

He said, “Sen. Kennedy was the hope of the world … and I harmed all of them and it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that.”

Douglas Kennedy, a toddler when his father was killed, told the two-person board panel that he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and should be released if he’s not a threat to others, AP reported.

“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” Douglas Kennedy said, according to AP.

“I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.”

Another of RFK’s sons, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., also said he favored Sirhan’s release.

In a letter to the parole board, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that he met Sirhan in prison and was moved by his father’s killer, “who wept, clenching my hands, and asked for forgiveness,” AP reported.

Paul Schrade, an aide to RFK who was among five people wounded in the shooting, also spoke in favor of Sirhan’s release, AP reported.

But six of RFK’s nine surviving children said they were shocked by the decision, AP reported and urged California Governor Gavin Newsom to keep Sirhan behind bars.

“He took our father from our family and he took him from America,” the six siblings wrote in a statement, AP reported.

This hearing marks Sirhan’s 16th attempt at securing parole.

At his last parole hearing in 2016, the panel determined that Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understanding of the enormity of his crime, AP said.

Although California’s parole board voted to free the assassin, his release is not assured.

The ruling will be reviewed over 120 days, AP said, and then it will be sent to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to grant, reverse or modify it.

Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian from Jordan, previously admitted that he was angry with Kennedy because of the senator’s support of Israel.

When asked about the Middle East conflict during the parole hearing, AP said Sirhan broke down in tears.

He explained that he no longer follows the region’s politics but was emotional thinking about the suffering of refugees.

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death but later commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972.

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One law firm brought hundreds of website accessibility cases. One of their clients says they ‘beefed up’ her disability in more than a dozen lawsuits.

Frances Kalender, a white woman wearing a maroon v-neck top, stands on an apartment balcony and looks into the distance.
Frances Kalender is legally blind, but she can read. Her lawyers filed 13 lawsuits where they overstated her disability.

  • In 2015, just 57 businesses were sued over website accessibility. Last year, over 2,500 were.
  • One of the most prolific law firms overstated a client’s disability in legal filings.
  • The client said she didn’t even know what her lawyers were claiming about her disability.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Frances Kalender is legally blind. She has a condition called retinitis pigmentosa that is eating at her peripheral vision. She can’t drive, and some things look blurry, but her central vision still works; she can read.

But in 13 lawsuits, her lawyers gave a different impression, telling a judge that Kalender couldn’t browse the internet without text-to-speech software known as a screen reader.

When Insider read portions of the lawsuits filed in her name, Kalender seemed confused. She doesn’t need a screen reader. In fact, she finds them somewhat annoying. “They beefed up my blindness,” she said of her lawyers.

Website accessibility is a real problem for blind users, and lawsuits can be an effective way to get businesses to fix their sites. But the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act are vague, and even though over 2,500 businesses were sued last year over their websites, surveys of blind internet users suggest accessibility isn’t actually getting better.

Insider spoke with attorneys, people with visual disabilities who have struggled with technology designed for sighted people, and business owners who paid to settle cases they didn’t think had merit. Kalender also shared details about the strange path that led her to the doorstep of the most prolific website-accessibility lawyers in the US.

SUBSCRIBE TO READ: A single law firm is behind hundreds of website accessibility cases. One client says they ‘beefed up’ her blindness in more than a dozen lawsuits.

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Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak lost his legal battle against YouTube over videos that used his image to promote bitcoin scams

Steve Wozniak Apple cofounder
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak was told in a court ruling that YouTube isn’t responsible for his images being used to promote scam bitcoin giveaways, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

YouTube and parent company Google are protected under a federal law that safeguards internet companies from being treated as liable for content put up by users. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

Images and a video of Wozniak were used by YouTube scammers to trick viewers into believing he was hosting a live giveaway, in which anyone who sent him bitcoin would receive double the amount in return, according to the lawsuit. Wozniak, who stepped down from Apple in 1985, filed the complaint against the video-streaming service in California superior court last year, alongside several other plaintiffs.

The platform hosted such videos for months, which led to people being defrauded out of millions of dollars, the lawsuit claimed.

Scammers have pocketed record-breaking sums of money in 2021 so far, according to the BBC. Fake crypto giveaways often target the social-media accounts of high-profile figures and will, for example, hack into their account and post on their behalf, or impersonate the official account with a spoof account. In one instance, dogecoin scammers netted more than $5 million last month by exploiting Elon Musk’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance.

Wozniak criticized YouTube for relying on Section 230, saying it had not only failed to remove the videos, but contributed to the scam by displaying targeted ads that drove traffic to them.

But these arguments aren’t enough to overcome the US law that provides immunity to platforms for their users’ content, Judge Sunil Kulkarni said in his Santa Clara County Superior Court ruling. The plaintiffs have been given 30 days to revise the complaint.

The Apple cofounder isn’t the only tech figure to have been misrepresented in video-based scams. Screenshots of similar videos featuring Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Dell chairman and CEO Michael Dell were put forward in the lawsuit.

Read More: Getting paid in crypto instead of cash may sound crazy, but here’s why you may want to – and the potential complications

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How Donald Trump hurt female representation in federal courts

supreme court trump
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump wave a flag at the Supreme Court as the court reviews a lawsuit filed by Texas seeking to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2020.

  • The federal judiciary has always been overrepresented by male judges compared to the US population.
  • But Donald Trump’s appointments of more than 230 judges left the courts even less female.
  • Experts say gender parity is vital to the courts’ understanding of gender justice issues.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After four years in office, President Donald Trump left America’s judiciary – an institution already steeped in gender homogeneity – significantly more male.

During his one-term presidency, Trump appointed more than 230 lifetime-appointed judges to the federal court system, installing approximately 28% of the current federal judiciary and cementing his legacy on the American court system for decades to come.

Insider compiled a database of every Article III judge in the federal judiciary, which includes Supreme Court justices, federal circuit and district judges, and justices on the US Court of International Trade. Once appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, Article III judges are granted a position for life.

Read more: Trump appointed 28% of all the federal judges in the US, and they could mold American life for decades to come

Trump doled out lifetime appointments to more than three times as many male judges as female judges – 174 men and only 55 women. For comparison, of the 315 justices appointed by former President Barack Obama, who remain on the bench, 183 are men and 132 are women.

The federal judiciary is still far from achieving gender parity

A little more than half of the US population is female, but of the approximately 800 Article III judges currently on the bench, 67% are men and 33% are women. The percentage of female Trump appointees is even smaller – only 24% of his picks are women.

Gender of active judges, by president who appointed them 2021

Equal representation at the highest levels of the law gives legitimacy to the courts and enhances the fairness of the adjudication process, experts told Insider.

“When a court is reflective of … the people they are aiming to protect, then individuals who appear in front of the court may be more confident that the court understands the real-world implications of their rulings and therefore will have better outcomes,” said Theresa Lau, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.

Judges bring their unique experiences to the bench, which Judge Karen Donohue, president of the National Association of Women Judges, said often leads to more comprehensive and empathetic perspectives from female judges.

“Laws and rulings can be based on gender and racial stereotypes that may have different impacts on men and women,” Donohue said.

Having women on the bench is also a crucial step in ensuring the courts understand the implications of gender justice issues in the judicial pipeline, Lau said.

Women are not a monolith – neither are female judges

While more women in positions of judicial power is a positive aim, progressive activists are less concerned with the gender of a judge and more focused on how that judge wields their power.

“The critical question is whether or not a judge understands that central to the pursuit of freedom and justice are laws that support equity and enable women and all people to thrive,” Amanda Thayer, spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice, told Insider.

Two of Trump’s female appointees, in fact, have some of the harshest anti-abortion rights records of the batch.

Wendy Vitter – a Louisiana judge who once said Planned Parenthood kills “over 150,000 females a year” and Sarah Pitlyk – a pro-life Missourian who was deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association – were both confirmed to lifetime appointments in 2019.

Then there was Trump’s quickly nominated, swiftly confirmed appointment of Amy Coney Barrett – the fifth woman ever to sit on the US Supreme Court. Days before the 2020 presidential election, Trump replaced progressive stalwart Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Barrett, a female judge with her own storied history of hostility toward reproductive rights.

Despite polling that suggests 77% of Americans support Roe v. Wade, there has been an uptick in anti-abortion bills at the state level in recent years and Thayer said activists are watching closely for the possibility of a direct challenge to the landmark case.

Trump’s impact on the courts will be felt for years

The former president’s nominees were overwhelmingly male, overwhelmingly white, and young on average – a purposeful move on Trump’s part to guarantee his impact on the judiciary for decades, Donohue said.

“Trump definitely exacerbated the problem and the lack of diversity in the courts, but the judiciary has never been representative of the demographic diversity of this country,” Lau said.

She’s hoping that will soon start to change.

President Joe Biden already has 72 Article III vacancies to fill, nominations Lau said she hopes will go to justices who represent diverse racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, family status, disability, professional, and religious identities.

Yet the sexist double standards that female attorneys and judges regularly endure have already begun to materialize in the early confirmation process for Vanita Gupta, Biden’s progressive civil rights nominee for associate attorney general.

“You’re talking about attack ads and opposition that … say ‘oh, because someone is a woman of color they are automatically biased,'” Lau said. “Which is maddening … it’s just assumed that the white male cisgender perspective is the unbiased one.”

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Meet the Uber drivers who spent 5 years fighting the ride-hailing firm for basic workers’ rights – and won

Former Uber drivers James Farrar (L) and Yaseen Aslam react as they leave the Employment Appeals Tribunal in central London on November 10, 2017. US ride-hailing app Uber on Friday lost a landmark case in Britain that would give drivers the right to paid holidays and the national minimum wage, lawyers representing the claimants said. Farrar, who brought the test case with fellow former driver Aslam, called Uber's business plan "brutally exploitative". Uber said it will appeal the ruling.
Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam leaving an employment appeals tribunal in 2017.

  • Two ex-Uber drivers won a huge legal battle against the taxi app firm over workers’ rights.
  • Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar began the case in 2016, fighting for minimum wage and other rights.
  • Farrar said Uber is being defiant about the ruling but hopes it’ll come to accept it.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Five years after they took Uber to court, two ex-drivers on Friday won a legal battle against the ride-hailing firm.

Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were part of a small group of drivers who brought the original case against Uber in 2015. Aslam and his colleague Farrar, president and general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) respectively, claimed Uber was breaking UK employment law by failing to offer basic worker rights, such as holiday pay and national minimum wage. They won the case.

Uber disputed the claims, saying it acted like other traditional minicab firms and counted its drivers as self-employed contractors. At the time, this meant drivers had minimal protections, including no sick pay and Uber could avoid the costs of paying minimum wage. In 2017, Uber appealed the original ruling and lost.

Uber then appealed the case in the UK’s Supreme Court and the process dragged on into February 2021. Again, the company lost, marking the end of its legal road. The outcome could threaten Uber’s business model in the UK – one of its biggest markets – if it is forced to cough up back pay for thousands of drivers who may bring cases, and if it must pay higher taxes.

The dispute will go back to an employment tribunal, which will decide how much the 25 drivers who brought the case five years ago will be awarded. Aslam believes he’s entitled to between £10,000 and £12,000.

“I was delighted,” he told Insider. “It means a lot. I didn’t just do it for myself, I did it for the workers and drivers. I’m just a driver who spoke up for injustice.”

Aslam, who is based in the UK, worked for Uber between 2013 and 2017. Once, during his time at the company, he says Uber “deactivated” him for organizing a campaign against the company’s treatment of drivers. This meant the company didn’t allow him to access the app to pick up passengers, he said. 

“I’m not anti-Uber and I’m not there to shut Uber down. But the law is there for a reason,” he added. Uber did not respond when Insider asked it to comment on Aslam’s claims of deactivation.

Uber’s business model 

When Aslam first started working at Uber, he said it was good. He earned £50 an hour, got a £10 bonus for each ride, and the fares were higher. Plus, the company “put the drivers first.”

As he continued working for the company, however, the fares got cheaper and the bonuses stopped, he says. After the launch of UberPool, a service launched in 2015 that allows people to split ride costs with another person who is travelling in the same direction, drivers were earning even less, according to Aslam.

Back in 2016, CNN also reported that drivers said UberPool meant more work, but not necessarily more pay. Aslam said drivers have realised that Uber is “hiding behind technology to control workers.”

According to Aslam, Uber’s business model involves mass recruiting and flooding the streets with drivers and cars, while keeping fares cheap to attract customers. This has long been a criticism of Uber and its business model – that the firm, initially funded by huge amounts of private capital, could afford to keep cab fares artificially low at the expense of drivers and the competition.

Although Aslam thinks businesses such as Uber should exist, he said they “rely on exploiting people and they go for a mass scaling model and I think it’s wrong.” He believes the customer should take some responsibility in the pricing as there’s a human cost involved: “There’s someone behind that wheel and they need to have rights.”

The case still isn’t over

“The devil is in the details now,” Farrar told Insider. He said Uber is being defiant about committing to implement the ruling.

After the recent ruling, Uber was quick to point out that it only applied to the group of 25 drivers who brought the case in 2016. It also said the ruling was specific to how Uber’s business operated when the drivers initially filed a lawsuit, and that the business has since changed.

“Uber is trying to spin a line to drivers that this ruling only applies to the original claimants and not to all drivers,”  said Farrar, who worked for Uber between 2015 and 2016. “Not only is it untrue but it’s demonstrably contrary to the spirit of the ruling.”

He hopes Uber is just going through “a stage of emotional grief and denial” and that it will accept the ruling. But if not, he said the government and regulator Transport for London (TfL) needs to step in. 

Claims against Uber are already piling up

If the government doesn’t enforce the law and TfL doesn’t step in, Farrar said he and other drivers would have to “pile up litigation” against Uber.

Indeed, thousands of claimants are already making claims against the firm. Nigel Mackay, a partner at Leigh Day Solicitors, said his company currently has 3,500 clients with claims against Uber.

Farrar, who formed an organization called Worker Info Exchange to help app workers like Uber drivers access their data from companies they work for, said these types of claims could become extremely expensive for the taxi app company. He believes there’ll be a cottage industry of lawyers making continuous claims against Uber “because it’s an easy win.”

He added: “It’s embarrassing that the poorest people on minimum wage have to go to the Supreme Court against one of the most powerful companies on Earth.”

Although Uber did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, the company sent a press release shortly after the ruling, featuring a statement from Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe.

It said: “We respect the court’s decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.  We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

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Danny Masterson accusers must have claims resolved by the Church of Scientology, judge rules

GettyImages 57245206
The Church of Scientology Celebrity Center in Hollywood, California.

  • Former members of the Church of Scientology must have their claims against the organization resolved by the organization itself, a California court ruled Thursday.
  • The ruling stems from a lawsuit accusing actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault and claiming the Church of Scientology harassed his accusers to silence them.
  • The court’s order exempts actor Bobette Riales, who was never a Scientologist.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former members of the Church of Scientology who accuse the organization of harassing them to cover up sexual assault will not have their claims heard in court. Instead, a California judge ruled Thursday, their claims will have to be weighed in a private arbitration process designed by the organization itself.

The ruling stems from a 2019 lawsuit accusing “That 70s Show” star Danny Masterson of sexual assault – and the Church of Scientology of harassing them to drop the claims. The suit was filed by actor and former girlfriend Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband and Mars Volta lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, two anonymous accusers, and actor Bobette Riales.

In their complaint, Masterson, “a high-ranking member of Church of Scientology and Religious Technology,” is accused of sexually assaulting Bixler at various times between 1996 and 2002, drugging and raping another woman twice, in 2002 and 2003, and assaulting a woman while she was too intoxicated to consent. The accusers allege that they then faced harassment from Scientology agents, including stalking and threats of violence.

In the December 30 court order, Judge Steven J. Kleifield of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, did not address the merits of the claims. Rather, the ruling states that former members of the Church of Scientology are bound by an arbitration clause signed by all who join the organization.

That clause states that members of the organization agree “to be bound exclusively by the discipline, faith, internal organization, and ecclesiastical rule, custom, and law of the Scientology religion in all matters relating to Scientology Religious Services, in all my dealings with any nature with the Church.”

Signatories agree to resolve any conflict within the organization’s own “binding religious arbitration procedures.”

Because she was never a member, and thus never signed away her rights to seek justice through the court system, Thursday’s ruling does not apply to Riales, an actor and former girlfriend who accuses Masterson of raping her multiple times during their relationship. 

In June, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office charged Masterson with forcibly raping three women at his home in the early 2000s.

Masterson denies the claims.

In a statement to E! News, a lawyer for the actor praised Thursday’s court ruling.

“This was absolutely the correct result,” attorney Andrew Brettler said. “We look forward to arbitrating the claims, as the court directed.”

The Church of Scientology did not respond to a request for comment. But it previously rejected the accusations against it, calling the lawsuit a “dishonest and hallucinatory publicity stunt.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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