Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The U.S. Supreme Court has denied review in Resurrection School v. Hertel. In the case, an en banc panel of the Sixth Circuit held by a vote of 13-1-3 that a free exercise challenge to Michigan’s COVID mask mandate for school children is moot.
- In United States v. Dickey, the Seventh Circuit upheld a trial court’s refusal to give jury instructions sought by a criminal defendant who was the leader of her own church, Deliverance Tabernacle Ministry, and who was convicted of wire fraud and forced labor. The court held that Dickey’s proposed jury instructions failed because they were not an accurate statement of the law and would have excused her criminal conduct based on her religious assertions.
- In Tatel v. Mt. Lebanon School District, a Pennsylvania federal district court allowed parents of first graders to move ahead with their due process, equal protection, and free exercise claims against a teacher who taught their students about transgender topics over parental objections. The court also allowed plaintiffs to move forward against school administrators, the school board, and the school district.
- In JLF v. Tennessee State Board of Education, Plaintiff asked a Tennessee federal district court to reconsider its prior holding that the display of the national motto “In God We Trust” in a public charter school did not violate the Establishment Clause. Plaintiff argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which rejected the Lemon test and adopted the Historical Practice test for Establishment Clause cases, constitutes an intervening change in controlling law. However, the court denied Plaintiff’s motion to reconsider as Kennedy did not affect the court’s previous ruling, and the court did not rely on the Lemon test to reject Plaintiff’s Establishment Clause claim.
- In Chambers of Commerce of the USA v. Bartolemo, various business organizations filed suit in a Connecticut federal district court challenging on free speech grounds a Connecticut statute that protects employees from being made into captive audiences. The statute imposes liability on employers that discipline employees who refuse to attend employer-sponsored meetings or listen to employer communications whose primary purpose is to express the employer’s views on religious or political matters.
- In Billy Graham Evangelistic Association v. Scottish Event Campus Limited, a trial court in Scotland concluded that a large arena in Scotland whose majority owner is the city of Glasgow violated the Equality Act when it canceled an appearance by evangelist Franklin Graham because of concern that he might make homophobic and Islamophobic comments during his appearance. The court awarded Graham’s organization damages equivalent to $112,000 USD.