Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- In Zinman v. Nova Southeastern University, Inc., the 11th Circuit dismissed a lawsuit by a Jewish law student challenging his school’s COVID mask mandates on religious grounds, stating that the mandates were neutral rules of general application and did not violate the First Amendment. The court also found that not wearing a mask did not constitute protected speech or expressive conduct.
- The 9th Circuit heard argument in Hittle v. City of Stockton, a case involving former Fire Chief Ronald Hittle’s claims of religious discrimination and retaliation. A California federal district court had previously rejected Hittle’s claims. He was fired for attending a two-day religious “Global Leadership Summit” with three other city employees on city time and using a city vehicle.
- In Gaddy v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, an Utah federal district court dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by former members of the LDS Church. The plaintiffs alleged fraudulent misrepresentation of the Church’s founding and the use of tithing money. The court ruled that the church autonomy doctrine protected the Church’s beliefs and teachings.
- A Christian school in Maine filed suit against the state’s 2021 amendments to the Human Rights Act, which prevent the school from participating in the tuition payment program for students from districts without public high schools. The school argues that the requirement to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination provisions, as well as the prohibition on discriminating between religions infringe upon the Free Exercise, Free Speech, and Establishment Clauses.
- In In re Parents for Educational and Religious Liberty in Schools v. Young, a New York state trial court granted a partial victory to Orthodox Jewish day schools challenging the state’s “substantial equivalency” regulations. While the court rejected the schools’ constitutional challenges, it held that the Department of Education exceeded its authority by requiring parents to withdraw their children from non-compliant schools.
- In Matter of Quagliata v New York City Police Department, a New York state trial court remanded a case where an administrative panel denied an NYPD officer a religious exemption from New York City’s COVID vaccine mandate. The court found the panel’s determination arbitrary and capricious, but did not rule on whether the officer’s request for an exemption based on religious doctrine was valid.