In May 2017, a Tennessee judge issued a standing order allowing inmates to receive thirty days’ jail credit in exchange for undergoing a voluntary sterilization procedure. Although the order was ultimately rescinded, this Article will address the constitutional and ethical concerns that a district court would have considered had the order not been rescinded. While inmates can always choose to waive their constitutional rights, the coercive nature of prisons—explained in the unconstitutional conditions doctrine—may compromise a prisoner’s ability to provide voluntary consent. The constitutionality of the order largely depends on the level of scrutiny a court applies. Regardless of the order’s constitutionality, the adverse ethical and social ramifications outweigh any potential benefits that could come from such an order. This order would also give too much power to state governments over an individual’s reproductive freedoms. Instead of automatically reducing an inmate’s sentence after undergoing a sterilization procedure, drug offenders should have the opportunity to choose from several different birth control options that could possibly lead to a reduced sentence.
Recent attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the potential rollback of the interpretation of the protections the Act affords transgender people put transgender people at risk of being denied services and coverage for gender-affirming care. This Article provides advocates with alternative legal arguments to help employees bring claims when their employer provides a health benefit plan that discriminates on the basis of gender identity. These arguments can avoid the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s broad preemption scheme and lack of nondiscrimination provisions. This Article proposes that, based on a narrow exception to preemption regarding the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s construction with other federal laws and the case law interpreting that exception, federal nondiscrimination laws — including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act — may and must play a role in regulating discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employee health benefit plans.