Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, where a California federal district court, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, upheld California’s COVID restrictions on houses of worship.
- The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction pending appeal against enforcement of a health department order prohibiting in-person attendance at Christian and Catholic schools, holding that in deciding whether religious schools are treated less favorably than comparable secular activities, it is not enough that secular schools are treated in the same manner.
- President Trump issued an Executive Order allowing states to use funds from Community Services Block Grants to provide scholarships to private or parochial schools, or for home schooling or or other educational services, for disadvantaged students whose public schools do not offer in-person classes during the COVID pandemic.
- An historic Black church in Washington, D.C. filed suit against the Proud Boys, its chairman Enrique Tarrio, and members of the organization, seeking damages and declaratory relief for vandalizing the church.
- A Massachusetts federal district court rejected claims that COVID-19 orders imposing maximum occupancy limits and requiring a mask and social distancing at Catholic religious services violated a plaintiff’s free exercise rights.
- The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Diocese of Lubbock v. Guerrero, a defamation case concerning whether the ecclesiastical-abstention doctrine bars a libel claim when a church internally decides to disclose inside information to the public at large.
- An Illinois state appellate court held that an organization that operates a Christ-centered after-school program to aid students is exempt from the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act.
- The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed a state Court of Appeals decision holding that there are no state or federal constitutional bars to state reimbursement of private and parochial schools for the costs they incur in complying with state health, safety, and welfare mandates such as state asbestos regulations and vehicle inspections.