The Center’s 1oth Anniversary Video

Mark and I hope you enjoy this new video, which we put together for the Center’s 10th anniversary (plus one!). It describes the people, activities, projects, and opportunities that make the Center what it is. Here’s to another 10 (plus more)!

Breen and Strang Reply to Interlocutors on Catholic legal education

In 2020, the Journal of Catholic Legal Studies and the Center for Law and Religion co-hosted a symposium on a draft book by Professors John Breen and Lee Strang: “A Light Unseen: A History of Catholic Legal Education.” Deans of several Catholic law schools, as well as other learned academics, offered comments on the manuscript. Those comments were published by JCLS last year.

Professors Breen and Strang have now offered this thorough and very interesting reply, in the new issue of JCLS. Their remarks are well worth your time.

Video of Webinar on Cultural Heritage in Law & Diplomacy

Last month, the Center co-sponsored a webinar on cultural heritage in law and diplomacy, along with the Fletcher Initiative at Tufts and the Armenian Studies Program at California State University-Fresno. Among other things, the participants discussed the capacity of international law to offer protection for minority cultural property during armed conflicts, including the current conflict in Nagorno Karabakh. A video of the webinar is now available at the link below. Posts from the participants were made available earlier on this site. Thanks again to our colleagues at Tufts and Cal-State and all the participants!

Around the Web

  • The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Slockish v. U.S. Department of Transportation. The plaintiffs are members of a federally-recognized tribe and allege that the government knowingly destroyed a sacred religious site during a highway construction project.
  • The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in Orr v. Christian Brothers High School. The issue on appeal is whether a California Catholic school can use the ministerial exception in response to claim of racial discrimination.
  • In M.P. v. New Hampshire School Administrative Unit 16, a Catholic teenager brought suit against his New Hampshire public school district after being suspended for refusing to conform to the school’s “preferred gender pronoun policy.” The student claims that the policy penalizes students who, out of religious conviction, decline to follow the policy.
  • In Johnson v. Cody-Kilgore Unified School District, a Nebraska federal district court allowed a group of Native American parents to move forward with their lawsuit against a school for cutting their children’s hair in violation of their religious traditions.
  • A Virginia teacher, who was placed on leave for objecting to a school district’s “preferred pronoun policy” on religious grounds, has agreed to a settlement. The school will reinstate the teacher, remove any reference to his suspension from his file, and pay attorney’s fees.
  • Six U.S. Congress members wrote to the Commission for International Religious Freedom expressing concern after prosecutors in Finland pressed charges against a Protestant bishop for publicly expressing traditional teachings on marriage and sexuality.
  • A German pastor was found guilty of “aiding and abetting an unauthorized resident” and sentenced to two years probation after housing an Iranian refugee in one of his churches. The pastor plans to appeal this decision claiming that his faith required him to help the refugee.

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Ramirez v. Collier. A Texas death-row inmate sought a stay of execution, arguing that his pastor should be allowed to lay hands on him as he receives a lethal injection. The Fifth Circuit affirmed a refusal to grant the stay of execution.
  • In Resurrection School v. Hertel, the Sixth Circuit granted en banc review to reconsider a challenge by a group of Catholic parents’ to a COVID-19 mask mandate for schools. A panel previously held that the mandate did not violate the children’s free exercise rights.
  • In Byrd v. Haas, the Sixth Circuit reversed the dismissal of RLUIPA and free exercise claims brought by an inmate who sought to worship with other inmates and obtain items to be used in worship.
  • In Sambrano v. United Airlines, a Texas federal district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction against United Airlines’s practice of placing on unpaid leave employees who receive a religious exemption from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
  • In Thoms v. Maricopa County Community College District, an Arizona federal district court granted a preliminary injunction to two nursing students who sought religious exemptions from a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
  • The Department of Labor released a proposal to rescind a Trump Administration rule that broadly defines religious exemptions under the agency’s anti-discrimination requirements for government contractors and subcontractors.

Video of Webinar on Religious Exemptions

The SNF Agora Institute at The Johns Hopkins University has posted a video of the webinar I participated in this week, on religious freedom in the US. The panel was moderated by The Atlantic’s Rachel Donadio; other participants included K. Healon Gaston (Harvard), Daniel Mach (ACLU) and Asma Uddin (Independent). I greatly enjoyed the panel and am grateful to the organizers for inviting me. Video below:

Webinar on Religious Liberty in France and the US

I’m looking forward to participating this afternoon in a panel on religious liberty issues in the U.S., part of a webinar on Secularism in France and the United States organized by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. Our very first Center event eleven years ago was a conference on laicite at our Paris campus and I’m looking forward to revisiting these issues. Details at the link:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Supreme Court declined to grant review in a lawsuit brought by a transgender man against a Catholic hospital after the hospital declined to perform a hysterectomy on the plaintiff. The Catholic hospital claimed that performing this procedure would have required it to violate its religious beliefs.
  • In Redeemed Christian Church of God (Victory Temple) Bowie, Md. v. Prince George’s County, the Fourth Circuit held that RLUIPA applied to a county council’s decision denying a water and sewer upgrade for property purchased by the plaintiff church. 
  • In We the Patriots USA, Inc. v. Hochul  and Dr. A v. Hochul, the Second Circuit vacated a temporary injunction issued against a statewide order mandating that medical professionals receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • In Texas v. Department of Labor, the Fifth Circuit issued a stay freezing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would require workers at U.S. companies with at least 100 employees be vaccinated or be tested weekly.
  • In Abraham House of God and Cemetery, Inc. v. City of Horn Lake, two local religious leaders brought suit in Mississippi federal district court alleging that the defendant denied approval of a mosque site plan because of religious discrimination.
  • In Ratio Christi at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, a Christian student group filed a lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln alleging viewpoint discrimination after the school denied funding for a guest speaker.
  • In Rojas v. Martell, an Illinois state trial court ruled that a county health department violated the conscience rights of a Catholic nurse who lost her job after refusing to provide patients with contraceptives or abortion referrals.
  • Texas voters approved a state constitutional amendment which provides that the state “may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services.” This amendment was created in response to the numerous restrictions placed on religious gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The Illinois legislature passed SB 1169, which amends the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act to state that it is not a violation to impose any requirement intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Legal Spirits Episode 038: Law & Religion in “The Merchant of Venice”

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, one of his “problem plays,” has long fascinated lawyers. Yet the legal arguments in the case are preposterous. In this episode, we discuss how Shakespeare uses an absurd legal dispute to illustrate deeper religious and political conflicts and speculate about the implications of the play for America today. Perhaps the reason Merchant so fascinates lawyers is that it demonstrates uncomfortable truths about the limits of law. Listen in!

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

  • The Supreme Court declined to grant injunctive relief in Does v. Mills, the Maine vaccine case. The vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers will remain in effect while a petition for review of the First Circuit’s decision is pending.
  • In Crow v. Jones, the Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution that was granted to two Oklahoma death row inmates. The inmates objected, on religious grounds, to a trial judge ordering that they choose among proposed alternative methods of execution, arguing that doing so would amount to suicide.
  • In Ratio Christi v. Khattor, a Christian student organization sued in Texas federal district court challenging a university’s non-discrimination policy after the student group was denied recognition because the group requires its officers to share the organization’s religious beliefs.
  • In Doe v. San Diego Unified School District, a 16-year-old high school student sued a school district, claiming religious discrimination over vaccine mandates.
  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, signed House Bill 2563 which allows high schools to offer classes on “how the Bible has influenced Western culture.” 
  • The EEOC updated its COVID-19 Technical Assistance Document to include guidance on how employers should approach requests for religious exemptions.
  • Canada’s Federal Court upheld a provision that required organizations applying for funding to attest that they respected individual human rights, including reproductive rights. Challengers argued that this requirement infringed their freedom of expression and religion.