In Gallo v. Washington Nationals Baseball Club, LLC, suit was filed in a D.C. federal district court by a scout for the Washington Nationals baseball team who was denied an accommodation for his religious objections to the baseball club’s COVID vaccine mandate.
In Smith v. Li, an inmate on death row brought a RLUIPA suit in a Tennessee federal district court seeking to stop the medical examiner from performing an autopsy after his death because it would violate his religious beliefs. The court enjoined the autopsy and held that the government could not show that conducting an autopsy in this case is necessary to fulfill a compelling government interest.
In Ciraci v. J.M. Smucker Co., an Ohio federal district court dismissed a suit by employees of a food manufacturer who claimed that their First Amendment free exercise rights were infringed when their employer denied them religious exemptions and required them to comply with the Presidential Executive Order mandating COVID vaccinations for employees of federal contractors. The court found the company is not a “state actor” when it complies with a federal vaccine mandate.
In Ali v. Heathrow Express Operating Company Ltd., the United Kingdom Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an Employment Tribunal’s dismissal of an Equality Act religious harassment complaint. The complaint was brought by a Muslim employee of the Heathrow Express train service after a paper with a religious phrase in Arabic was placed in a test bag, by another employee, during a suspicious-objects training test.
The Journal of Law, Religion and State invites contributions for its upcoming online workshop, “The Challenges of Law, Religion and State in Health Care and Mental Health.” The workshop will take place on July 26 & 27, 2022, and will focus on examining the different interactions between health-related state law and policy and the regulation of medical treatment and care by religious laws and norms.
Researchers are invited to submit abstracts on topics including, but not limited to, (1) organ transplant; (2) abortion; (3) IVF and other reproductive procedures; (4) end-of-life care; (5) the use of drugs; (6) capacity to consent to treatment; (7) patient rights; and (8) deontology.
Additionally, the Journal of Law, Religion and State encourages contributions that focus more specifically on mental health. These submissions can deal with questions such as: (1) Can religious clerics provide mental health care? (2) What is the appropriate regulation of such care? (3) Can professionals offer religiously-guided and/or religiously-adapted mental health care? and (4) What is the normative status of mental health definitions and professionally accepted norms and standards of care, which may be disrupted by some religious patients or staff?
Abstracts submissions (between 250-500 words) are due before April 30, 2022, and should be sent to Amos Israel (firstname.lastname@example.org). Acceptance decisions will be relayed to authors no later than May 5, 2022.
Authors whose proposals are accepted must provide a rough first draft of their paper (8000-10,000 words) no later than July 5, 2022.
Papers presented at the workshop will be peer-reviewed, and a selection of those accepted will be published in a special theme-issue of the Journal of Law, Religion and State (planned for December 2022).
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
In Toor v. Berger, four Sikh recruits filed suit against the Marine Corps seeking an accommodation that would allow them to wear religious beards and turbans while serving.
In Riley v. Hamilton County Government, a Tennessee federal district court refused to dismiss an Establishment Clause claim brought against a Deputy Sheriff who failed to intervene when another Deputy Sheriff coerced the plaintiff into participating in a Christian baptism during a traffic stop.
A Virginia school board prohibited a group of student-athletes at Blacksburg High School from wearing “Pray for Peace” shirts in support of Ukraine during pre-game warm-ups on the ground that the shirts are “political” and “religious.”
Shawnee State University has agreed to pay $400,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees after the Sixth Circuit held that the University violated the free exercise rights of a philosophy professor by mandating that the Professor use students’ preferred gender pronouns.
The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has denounced restrictions that would limit the annual Holy Fire ceremony to 1,000 people inside the church, with 500 allowed on the church’s grounds. The Patriarchate claims that the restrictions imposed by Israeli officials infringe on their religious liberty.
A 76-year-old woman is seeking to overturn a fine she received for taking a “solitary prayer walk” during a COVID-19 lockdown in England.
In this episode of Legal Spirits, Center Co-Directors Mark Movsesian and Marc DeGirolami explore C.S. Lewis’s great essay on the calling of the Christian scholar, “Learning in War-Time.” Lewis wrote the essay at the start of World War II, but it continues to speak to students and faculty today–Christian and non-Christian. As Lewis observes, “human life is always lived on the edge of a precipice,” and the question why people should devote what little time they have on earth to academic pursuits when so many other things call for our attention is a perennial one. Lewis’s message is one of humility, courage, and controlled hope, even in the worst of times. Listen in!
Just a note to thank the organizers of last week’s conference on religious liberty at the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal for hosting me. The event brought together a diverse group of scholars with truly differing points of view–something for which the organizers deserve a lot of praise. I presented a paper on the 50th anniversary this year of Wisconsin v. Yoder and received some very helpful comments. I look forward to seeing my essay in print in a forthcoming symposium edition of the Law Journal, and to reading the other participants’ papers!
In Weston v. Sears, an Ohio federal magistrate judge recommended that Plaintiff, a Seventh Day Adventist, be permitted to proceed in forma pauperis with her Title VII claim for religious discrimination. Plaintiff was fired for failing, until after the end of her Sabbath, to return multiple phone calls from her manager.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed a bill prohibiting discrimination against faith-based adoption and foster care organizations, including a requirement that they place children in same-sex households when doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
Here’s a nice write-up of last week’s Reading Society session on C.S. Lewis’s “Learning in War-Time,” led by lawyer and scholar Mark Lanier of the Lanier Theological Library. Thanks to Mark for traveling to New York to lead the session and to and all who attended. The Reading Society will be back next semester. See you then!
Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
In Austin v. U.S. Navy Seals 1-26, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-3, stayed a Texas district court’s order that barred the Navy from considering the COVID-19 vaccination status of service members who object to the vaccine on religious grounds in making decisions regarding deployment, assignment, and operations.
The Supreme Court denied review in Brysk v. Herskovitz, in which the Sixth Circuit had dismissed a suit brought by synagogue members against anti-Israel picketers who have picketed services at the Beth Israel Synagogue since 2003.
In Keister v. Bell, the Eleventh Circuit rejected a challenge brought by a traveling evangelical preacher against the University of Alabama after the University prohibited the preacher from setting up a banner, passing out literature, and preaching on a campus sidewalk because he did not have a permit. The court found the sidewalk was a limited public forum and thus the University could impose reasonable, viewpoint-neutral restrictions.
In Denton v. City of El Paso, a Texas federal magistrate judge concluded that the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights were violated by a city policy that prohibited the plaintiff from proselytizing at the Downtown Art and Farmers Market.
A Christian doctor, who lost his job for refusing to use patients’ preferred pronouns, will appear before a tribunal in the United Kingdom this week to challenge a ruling that held that biblical beliefs on gender are “incompatible with human dignity.”
Yesterday, a group of us from St. John’s gathered together to discuss C.S. Lewis’ famous sermon, “Learning in War-Time.” The event was one of the Center’s Reading Society gatherings, and we were lucky to speak together with Mark Lanier of the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas. Mark brought up the original draft of Lewis’ sermon, hand-written and, in fact, only very lightly edited. I have attached the first page of the original below. One of many interesting insights one gains from the original is that at the very top, you can see a reference to “Deut XXVI:5 A Syrian ready to perish was my father.” This reference did not make it into the published lecture. But it is evocative of one of the themes of the sermon: the worth of seemingly frivolous or unwise activities (as learning and the pursuit of knowledge may at times seem to be) during a time of great danger, friction, and upheaval. The piece repays close and regular reading, for Christians and others alike. We were lucky to have the chance to reflect on it together.